Adding value to your Farm – starting a Farm shop

By Emmanuel Allottey

The fallout from the coronavirus has led to more and more Africans going into farming as a source of livelihood and sustenance. Africa’s rich farmland and abundant rain create the perfect conditions for farming to blossom. This potential is hindered by the limited infrastructure and the capital investment required to transition into commercial farming.

Despite the constraints facing farmers there are options available that will add value to a farm and generate increased revenue. A farm shop is the next step in unlocking the value chain in farming. Farmers need to diversify their business in order to sustain growth. Through a farm shop the farmer has access to customers directly to sell produce grown on the farm.

Starting a farm shop is a source of additional income and increased profits if setup correctly. The following guidelines should be taken into consideration when opening a farm shop:

Cost of investment: consider establishing a cost effective, practical and functioning space to sell products to customers. If the shop setup will require a large capital outlay and infrastructure investment, then it may not add value in the long term but deplete resources.

Customer reach: due to the coronavirus pandemic, movement restrictions and social distancing have become the new norm and it will influence the amount of customer footfall likely to visit the shop. Providing customers, the options to buy online will open up access to wider customer base. The location and ease of access to the shop will also play a vital role in attracting customers.

Competition: a farm shop will face competition from larger supermarkets and retailers. Acknowledging the competition and positioning the shop to focus on differentiation and value addition rather than price and scale will create a competitive advantage. Concentrating on a core product produced on the farm and focusing on the areas that you do well such as quality, localness, customer service and the story behind the food that you sell will increase its customer appeal.

Customer service: The skills and the mind-set needed to operate a farm is very different from those required to run a farm business. Whereas a farmer’s main goal will be on production, those running a farm shop need to be customer focused and deliver superior customer experience.

Farm shops can be profitable businesses if they are well run and in the right location. If you are considering diversifying your farming business, consider starting a farm shop.

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