The thought of starting an income generating idea while working full-time is always alluring, with farming being a top choice for many people. The plan is normally to put in extra hours and extra coin so as to stabilize the business in the shortest time possible so that by the time one quits full-time employment, they have moved the venture beyond the incubation stage.
This mode of operation popularly known as ‘telephone farming’, is very challenging and sometimes the returns on investments are minimal. Most of the people who practice this mode of farming are urban based farmers co-coordinating farming through a telephone.
During a forum conducted by the Royal Embassy of Netherlands at the Latia Agri-business in Isinya, to see how to come up with ways on how this form of farming can be utilized to bridge the gap of food security; most of the farmers who attended the forum decried mistrust as the biggest challenge they encounter with their farm hands.
Benson Wambugu one of the telephone farmers in attendance opined that most of the farm managers they deploy on their farms are usually the source of frictions. “It always starts as communication barrier which ensues to a lot of mistrust. One sends money home for several errands to be carried out but in the end, little is spent on what the money was intended for. There is an aspect of different expectations. As I expect it to be side generation income, my farm managers expects it to be a top up of what I pay him/her at the end of the months,” he lamented.
The dream revolution of supporting telephone farmers started in Asia where the Asian Government has taken the initiative of supporting these farmers as the value chain of food production remains underdeveloped thus leading low food production.
There is now a massive urban population in Asia which is investing in Agriculture in upcountry thus contributing to food security.
According to Dr Julius Gatune one of the main speakers at the event, most telephone farmers do own farms which are above 5 acres and do fall under the medium scale farming. “They can re-energies the agricultural landscape in a number of ways, since; they have the resources to invest in mechanization, they have the orientation to adapt new technologies such as seeds, seedlings and thus can have a higher productivity and crucially relieve,” he said
Out of the forum, the key to the success of Telephone farming was identified as having a good farm hand to overcome lack of farming knowledge and lack of presence. “Having a good farm manager includes developing a shared vision between the two of you, improving on communications to dispute mistrust and better remuneration that goes beyond salary to include land for farm manager subsistence, sharing of profit or output and decent housing among others,” Dr Gatune said.