No entrepreneur is a risk-taker more than a farmer. From the time he plants until when she harvests, she risks her own investment and that of a nutritious, healthy nation. From weather patterns, rainfall, fertiliser supplies, vet medicine, seed quality, availability of labour to plant and to reap, transportation to markets, satisfied buyers, to access to information — every event in a farmer’s life is fraught with risk.
On top of these “normal risks”, we add inconsistent macro-economic policies, volatile interest rates, climate change, widespread malnutrition, and meeting the higher standards mandated by wider market access.
Sadly, farmers have no control of most of these things.
But a mindset that accepts risks as a daily occurrence does not mean that the risks are recognised for what they are, nor does it differentiate between risks that can be managed or manipulated and risks that should be incorporated into the profile of the business. Indeed, every business has a risk profile and every entrepreneur has his or her own risk profile that propels them to take specific actions to stimulate growth, innovation, and business success.
The Theory of Social Change posits that behaviour only changes for the better if the mind first accepts and rationalises the need to change. The mind accepts it under one of two conditions depending on how the individual views the world and their place in it. Either you change your behaviour because something bad will happen if you don’t, or you change your behaviour because something good will happen if you do.
Here’s how to build a positive mindset.
- Build your confidence: Farmers have tremendous indigenous knowledge that must be maintained and built upon. Associate with people who will support and respect you for who you are, what you know and do.
- Learn what is happening in the local agriculture from sources like fellow farmers, newspapers, agrovets, TV, agricultural fairs or local government agencies. And remember, the more robust the dialogue with other players, the more effective every farm becomes.
- Rise out of the informal economy and become active participant in transforming the agricultural sector. The most effective way to do so is by becoming a member of farming associations.
- Youth need to be inspired each day you go to your farm. And as you age, demonstrate, motivate, inspire, and create mechanisms that directly respond to the aspirations of young people. Give them every opportunity to learn to farm and grow. Distribute that knowledge throughout the farming economy, and reward them as they play a role in the transformation.
- With these, the negative mindset surrounding farming can easily change into positive collective action. When we change our mindset, we will transform and feed the nation.