“And God said let the earth bring forth vegetation, the plant yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, and the plant yielding seeds after their kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself after its own kind: and God said that it was good.” Genesis 1:11-12 KJV2000.
Folks, by the above given verse in the bible we get to see how biblical history acknowledges the environment during God’s creation. We get to know that the environment was under God’s perfect plan and he gave man dominion over all this vegetation. It is sad that man has irredeemably failed in being a good steward of the environmental resources God gave him to manage. Back to bible history, we learn of man’s fall in Genesis 3. As a result of his fall, God pronounced harsh punishment upon the man and the woman because of the sin of disobedience. To Adam, he cursed the ground for his sake, such that in sorrow, he was to eat of it all the days of his life. I am made to understand that thorn and thistles came about because of a cursed ground or else the issue of being pricked occasionally by irritable thorns would never have arisen in our lives. Well, plant scientists may not buy that.
On the positive side of this entire genesis, we tend to see how farm management came about. As much as it was a curse upon the human race to till the land the rest of their miserable lives on earth, man’s privilege to have dominion and power over the rest of creation was never taken away from him. This explains why we have the concept of farm management in our lives today. Talking of farm management, there are some basic concepts that we need to understand in relation to the subject in question. First and foremost, how can we define a farm, a farmer, management and the whole concept of farm management? Let’s get started
A farm can be defined as all the productive resources under the control of one farmer. These productive resources are namely land, labour and capital resources. According to genesis, nothing has changed yet folks; man is still in full control of resources.
A farmer is a resource manager who attempts to manipulate his/her land, labor and capital resources in optimizing their use towards maximizing on profits. No doubt that man is still a steward of God’s creation.
Maximization of profits, has always been used in relation to maximizing on cash income, however in the case of small holder farmer, production of staple foods for home consumption is equated to high value income generation. On the other hand, production of alternative products could also lead to a higher income.
Simply put, management is a function of carrying out day-to-day decisions about how productive factors could be used to carry out these decisions.
According, to the bible book of Genesis, God created the world in a record 6 days and rested on the seventh. It must have been a hell of work to him but he is God, it is recorded he simply said “let there be”. Whether there were production factors to consider I do not know for sure, maybe you know?
Farm management can be defined as a decision-making process which involves the allocation of limited resources to a number of production alternatives to achieve certain objectives in the operation of the farm business. As such, you as a farm manager, you must know:
- What you should cultivate or rear
- What should be the extend of your individual enterprise; say 5, 10 or 20 acreage of land.
- How will you obtain the production factors such as land and capital? For instance you could explore alternatives at your disposal such as; should you borrow capital from lenders? Should you lease the land? Or should you employ hired labour.
- What kind of cultivation methods should you use? Is it minimum tillage with little soil disturbance or maximum that involves primary and secondary tillage?
- How much chemicals and fertilizer should you apply to a given crop? For instance with maize, 75kgs /acre of land is preferred.
- When it comes to livestock what should be the ratio between the concentrates and the roughage in dairy herd feeds.
Therefore as a farm manager you should know your goals and objectives, for some it could be farming for profit-making,
- Attaining subsistence production
- Business survival
- Business growth or
- maintaining a stable income over time.
And therefore as a farm manager you need to know your roles and responsibilities. For example, when given a plot of land to make it productive, you need to look at management in two classifications
- Management as a problem solving activity
- Management as a decision-making activity
When looking at management as a problem solving activity look at what you should produce in what quantity and how should you produce it. Maybe as manager managing a vegetable farm you could settle on tomato variety Rambo F1 as a crop for production. You then will need to know how many acreage of land you will need for the production of tomato depending on the production factors at your disposal. Let’s say you settle on 1 acre of land. Rambo F1 has a yield potential of 30 tonnes per acre. Therefore as a farm manager your objective or goal will be to optimize on the production factors available such as labour and capital to maximize on the yield potential of Rambo F1. Subsequently as a farm manager you will need to solve the problem of how to produce the tomatoes. Is it in an open field or inside a green house? Rambo F1 does well in open field environment, so the best alternative for the farm manager will be to settle on an open field for production of the tomato. Given that it is an open field, he will need to solve the problem of water shortage in the event of little or no rainfall by use of irrigation. As the farm manager, he will need to know the most efficient method of irrigation to use.
This brings us to management as a decision-making activity. Every production decision a farm manager makes relates to the above mentioned problems of what and how. These problems can also be defined as economic problems. As a farm manager, in trying to solve these economic problems through the right decision-making; you need to know their characteristics which include:
- They have goals or objectives to be attained.
- They have a limited amount of resources to be used in reaching these objectives.
- They have a number of alternative ways to use the limited resources in attempting to attain these objectives.
To be able to make the right decisions, a farm manager should formalize his/her decision-making process into an orderly and logical series of steps, such like;
- Identifying and defining the problem. E.g the soils could be highly acidic therefore having very low pH for watermelon production(pH 5.5-6.5)
- Collecting the relevant facts, data and information e.g up to date facts on watermelon production and ecological requirements, collecting soil samples from the given field for soil testing, the field crop history and fertilizer regime.
- Identifying and analyzing alternative solutions e.g locating another field with favourable pH for watermelon, reducing acidity levels in soil by application of lime, choosing on another crop that does well in acidic soils or doing nothing.
- In making a decision, select the best alternative, best alternative in this case for instance would be to correct the highly acidic levels in soil by application of lime.
- Implement the decision.
- Observe results and bear responsibility of outcome.
Broader Problem Definition
Any rational farm manager, should begin by identifying that first he has a problem. For example, when he is faced by conflicting facts.
Case point; when the farm expenses are higher than farm revenue.
This problem can be recognized by
- What is against versus what to be
- Collecting relevant data, fact and relevant information.
To be a good farm manager, it calls for a good observer; you must have an alternative solution in solving problems at hand. Therefore, it is important that you attempt to have access to data that will be handy in solving problems. The data collected should be analyzed.
- Identifying and analyzing alternatives
In the event that relevant information is available,you as the manager can begin a list of alternatives that are potential solutions to the problem, you should analyze each alternative in a logical and organized manner. This is will ensure accuracy and that nothing is overlooked.
- Making a decision
After you have weighed and evaluated all the advantages and disadvantages, one may appear to be definitely better than the other. Probably, it could be the one showing the greatest increase in expected profits. However this selection could be complicated by uncertainty of the future. If it appears that several alternatives have merely same effects on profits, as a farm manager you should assess the probability that each will have risks associated with them.
- Implement the decision
A farmer who chooses not to implement a decision has still chosen an alternative. However, as a farm manager, do these after sufficient analysis of problems to be solved.
A manager accepts responsibility for their decisions. This is after performing, monitoring, and final evaluation on your implementation. This explains why some managers might find it difficult to make a decision.