If you follow the world’s economic trends related to our dear continent, Africa, you will observe one significant thing; Africans are getting back to the farm (or we’re being forced back to the farm).
This is good news if you consider the fact that the African continent is importing billions of dollars of food every year. To be specific, we imported food worth $40 billion in the year 2015.
My last sentence (that we imported $40 billion worth of food) isn’t good news, is it? When you consider the fact that nearly 50% of Africans are farmers, you’ll want to cry when you know we’re still importing food. Something is actually wrong.
But, what is wrong?
That’s the reason for this post. I think we could do better. I think we could use internet and technology to increase our food productivity, feed ourselves and feed the world. In fact, I believe as a farmer, you should be making money on the internet.
I know what you’re thinking, “Making money online as a farmer? How can that be?” The reason why you asked me that question is because the concept of “making money online” has been grossly misunderstood by most people.
Some people think that making money online is somewhat magical. Others think you can only make money online by selling information products or through Google AdSense. I say NO. Everyone who is into any business could (and should) make money online.
Let me explain with my experience.
A few weeks ago, I needed to partner with at least 5 poultry farmers, 5 fish farmers and 5 pig farmers in Nigeria for a business. This partnership could earn some of them nearly ₦500,000 ($2,500) a year. I didn’t know any farmer who was qualified for what I needed so what did I do? I went straight to the internet.
I started searching and before long I had gotten the contacts (phone numbers and email addresses) of more than 20 poultry, fishery and pig farmers. At the time of writing this, I had made partnership agreements with more that 10 of them. One of them is already making money from our deal while some will start making money in the next few weeks.
What do you think about someone making $2,500-$4,000 from the business deal he’s able to get because he was present on the internet? Will you say such farmer is making money from the internet? Yes, if you think deeply about it. Give me a minute and I will show you how you as an individual could start making money on the internet as a farmer (either livestock or crop farming).
I will as well show you how we (as a continent) could take the advantage of the internet and technology to boost our farm productivity, create jobs and feed the world.
Now I start…
Have a presence on the web
This is probably one of the funniest advises you could give a farmer. Presence on the internet? Why and for what? You see, whether we like it or not, brick and mortar shops are dying and may one day (soon) die completely. We are getting excessively used to the “Googling” and internet that you’re sometimes tempted to search Google for your lost car key.
Funny, but it happens, doesn’t it?
If you’re like me, when you forget someone’s name and want to call him you sometimes remember Google. Hahahahahaha…
What I am saying in essence is that, we have been spoilt to a point where we search the internet for virtually everything. I hate theory so I won’t bore you with it.
As I am writing these words, because I knew I would have to convince you with some evidence, I had to go and use Google Keyword Planner (software made by Google to reveal to us the numbers of people searching the internet for certain keywords per month).
You won’t believe what I saw. Google reveals that many people are searching the internet every day for where to buy fish. In fact, some people are using the term, “where to buy fish online”
Over 7,000 people are searching the internet every month for “buy fish online”, “buying fish online” etc.
Not just fishes. Google reveals that over 50,000 people are searching the web every month, using different keywords, looking for where to buy chickens. Some people are now saying, “Yes, chickens and fishes are major agricultural products.”
Okay, what about heirloom or tomatoes?
More than 20,000 people are searching the internet every month for tomato related information and how to buy tomatoes. In fact, Google Keyword Planner reveals that over 1,000 people use the search term, “where to buy heirlooms” every month.
Hard to believe yet true, the real world has shifted to the internet! Though Africans may not have fully caught up with the trend, soonest, we will. Someone will ask me, “but how can I possibly supply my chickens, fishes or tomatoes to someone searching the web from Canada?”
That’s not my point.
My point is, someone in your city, state or even your street is (and will soon be) searching the web for your agricultural products. Think about this. By the year 2020, just a few years from today, half a billion of Africans will be using the internet.
Out of this number, how many do you think you need to be “making money online” as a farmer? Just 5-10 new customers every month from the internet could take your business to a new level as you turn those new customers to repeat customers.
Take for instance someone who is searching for “broiler chickens” (Yes, Google reveals to me that some people are searching for that) and happens to be in your city or town, gives you a call because you are selling grown up broiler chickens.
After you supply her the 3 chickens she needs, you exchange contact details with each other. If in the next three months she needs 2 chickens, will she go to the internet again?
No. she will call you.
Having a presence on the web may not make you a millionaire next week (nothing legitimate can), but it’s an investment, trust me!
You are a crop farmer or a livestock farmer? Go and create that simple blog (website). Write a few posts that are related to your area of specialization (i.e. if you’re a poultry farmer, write about poultry farming, selling chickens, selling eggs etc).
You can learn a few things about writing and blogging to know how to blog. It could be hard work at start, yet it’s worth it. How else can you make money online as a farmer?
Learn advanced, modern farming through the internet
One of the major problems we have in Africa is that… you guessed it…we hate reading. Africans hate reading and this is one of the major reasons why we’re backward, I’m convinced! Ordinarily we should be crying that near half of our population are farmers and we’re hungry. In fact, we imported food worth $40 billion in the year 2015.
Because we are still practicing farming like farmers, not like entrepreneurs. Farming is a business and should be treated so. Most of our farmers are illiterate (don’t blame them), while some who are literate hate reading (blame these ones).
You have to read and learn modern farming methods. You can do this through the internet, if you’re serious.
I met someone about two months ago; he has worked with a fish farm for some years and knows so much about fish farming. When I let him know that I was impressed by his great knowledge, he told me his secret…Google and the internet. He simply searches the web to learn, learn and learn about fish farming.
How then does learning lead to earning?
No sane person will ask this question. No. You’re sane, you just don’t know. Learning is earning. You cannot earn more than you learn. It’s that simple. This is the third way to make money online as a farmer…
Be a consultant in your area of specialization and become a trainer or coach
Let’s talk about the two together.
I bought a book two days ago with the title, “How to Make Big Money as A Consultant”. You can call me if you want to borrow it.
No. That was a joke. I mean to say you can go and buy your own if you think you need it.
Should you really be a consultant? Yes, if you have spent at least three years as a farmer, you can be a good consultant in your area of specialization.
In the beginning of this post I told you about my business deal with some farmers but I did not tell you the detail of that deal. Now I will tell you.
It’s about training and consultancy.
As you may know, I am a blogger. On our website, we have some blog posts about poultry farming, fish farming, pig farming etc and our readers sometimes contact us to ask how they could get a place to go through one-on-one training and some need consultancy.
Since these people call from so many different places, we came up with the idea of partnering with farmers (poultry, piggery and fishery) in major cities in Nigeria.
These people are willing to pay and they pay for the training. We connect them to the nearest partners to them. They are happy, our partner farmers are happy because it means more revenue and yes, we too are happy.
What if you can do this directly without an intermediary like us?
Yes, you can.
We have talked about you having a simple website above, remember? I advised you should write few important posts as related to your specialization (i.e. as a maize farmer). Then, write one particular page and advertise a training and consultancy.
Don’t argue with me, some people are on the internet, searching for how to plant and grow cassava, yam, pepper etc. In fact, Google Keyword Planner reveals that over 18,000 people are searching the web every month with the term, “growing tomatoes”, meaning that these people want to know how to grow tomatoes.
All you need to be making money online as a farmer and have another stream of income is to get 3 of these people who are geographically near to you for training or consultancy and 5 others to buy your farm produce.
This, as I have said earlier may not happen next month (even if you take action today), but you will one day call me a prophet for telling you all these.
Write a comprehensive book about how to start, run and succeed in your area of specialization
This one could be very interesting as you can sell your book to any Joe from anywhere in the world, using your website as advocated above.
I have sold my books to so many places and people that I can’t possibly see.
What does it feels like to be having your maize farm, selling corns to your customers in the “physical” world, selling corns to some retailers who discovered your through the internet, selling maize farming training and consultancy to some people who come across you on the internet as they wish to go into maize farming, selling your PDF, E-book about maize farming to many people from many places through the internet?
I hate to talk as if it’s very easy because it’s not.
Everything I taught above about how to make money on the internet as a farmer will not happen as magic and may not reward you mightily now, but it could make someone a millionaire in the next few years.
Don’t forget to send my tithe!