Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 24, 2017 (SKNIS): Science Lecturer at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), Stuart Laplace, has urged prospective farmers to be business smart before growing crops as there are many factors to take into consideration.
Appearing on the radio-television show “Working for You” on May 24, Mr. Laplace said that consideration must first be given to prospective clients.
“In any kind of agriculture production whether it be soil or hydro, you first have to know who you are growing for,” he said. “So, you can’t just say ‘Hey, I’m going to be a farmer; I’m just going to plant and then I worry about the sales’. You first have to look at the market or the demand.”
He emphasised the importance of farmers knowing their target audience and added that consideration must also be given to the quantity they would need to grow. Here, Mr. Laplace said, is where the different types of agriculture technologies come into play.
“We are not saying that these technologies are the answers to all the problems that are out there, but you still need that business sense of acknowledging and understanding the dynamics that come with the entrepreneurial aspect of any business,” he said.
When considering the type of farming that an individual might venture into, Mr. Laplace said that they should think about the advantages that come with a particular style of farming and the reliability of its supply.
“You can’t just say well I’m going to get a hydroponics system and I’m going to make money. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “You first need to have commitment from the market. You should also show resilience in terms of being able to meet that demand.”
In terms of time frames, the science lecturer said that predictability of the crop is important.
“So, you can say for sure I’m going to give you a cucumber in 45 days or I can give you lettuce in 25 days. You have to be specific.”
Mr. Laplace explained that many businesses like hotels are keen on predictability.
“[They] like a two week forecast just in case that they have to import due to the fact that you may not be able to meet the demand,” he said. “Now, you first have to understand your crops, know what you are growing, how long they take to grow and how you have to plant them to keep that cycle. All of these aspects are important where agriculture is concerned.”
The science lecturer noted that the process must not be viewed as “just growing a plant.” The individual has to understand why they are venturing into agriculture.
In acknowledging the reason for getting into agriculture, Mr. Laplace said that prospective farmers should be “true to themselves.”
“You can’t say I want to grow peppers when I truly would like to grow lettuce,” he said. “The rotations, the systems of choice to grow are different in terms if you have 10 heads to harvest verses 1,500 heads. The system design has to be different to accommodate that. Both systems can grow, but it’s not efficient in terms of time management.”
Mr. Laplace also advised that potential farmers need to master their skills.
“You can’t be worried that you need to grow 10 to 15 things to make money. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “You have to focus and master before you move on. Once you focus on lettuce and mastered it, you can move on to peppers or corn or tomatoes or strawberries or whatever the case may be.”