Between Livestock or Crop Production?
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On farming profitability in Nigeria, A friend once asked me that between Animal and planting form of Agriculture, which one is more profitable?
Here is my take.
I have been asked this question many times in the past, so I decided to share my view here.
To begin with, I will simply say it’s pretty hard to tell straight up, because it largely depends on three things principally, which are; interest, personality and environment.
The choice of which to key in, depends firstly on passion – this is where your interest comes in. Some people are natural farmers while some will be frustrated out when things don’t work the way they planned it out. So, passion in interest of what you desire will sustain your love for Agriculture.
Personality on the other hand is about the kind of person you are. Your personality will determine how much of time or effort you wish spend on a particular farming engagement.
Lastly, we talk about your environment, which is about the available resources at your disposal.
All of these key three factors for me, determine greatly which could be good for you.
Now, let’s break it down.
Personally, because of my upbringing and farming exposure, I’m more favorably disposed to crop production than livestock keeping.
Here are the Pros & Cons
For crop production, you need to consider the following;
1. Space: Crop Cultivation requires more space and proper location because you need landed properties either on rentage/lease or acquiring through purchase, which is a tough one for most people when they consider where they live to farm, except you move to core villages where they might be using the lands to beg you to come and cultivate.
But for livestock, like 2 to 3 parcel or land, to cage animals or even little space in your backyard, you can rear goats, hens, or breed dogs profitably.
2. Effort: You need manual labour efforts except you’re going mechanized. Getting farm laborer is becoming difficult now.
The Contonu and Benue Tiv guys are no longer diligent and willing as they were in the past, many run away with farm properties after a while during the course of their engagement and will let you down as you will also suffer to get replacement.
It is a big threat to farming activities in most farming communities now. Many of those boys need quick money, as farming is becoming boring and uninspiring. So, if you have money, go mechanized. It will save you many labor efforts.
But in Livestock, only yourself can look after your small poultry or animal farm and run it successfully, but doing everything yourself for a farm with plan to make profit and expand, it will be tiresome.
3. Social Status: Because crop production is like the real farming deal – going into it fully may cause you your neatness, as your clothes, cars etc may begin to get dirty once on farm, no matter how tush you might wanna form, because you are dealing with the “soil”. Livestock doesn’t affect you much. It is hard for people not to know you are into farming with crop production but in livestock, you might have a big fish pond behind your house without people knowing.
4. Cost of Starting : I think for a subsistent agricultural exercise, it is very easy to kick start crop cultivation than livestock in terms of cost. I know people that rent 2 acres of land with N10,000 for a year farming activities.
Just clear bush in land preparation and tilling, which to me is still less expensive to engage in, compared to livestock management, because with just a cutlass and gifted grains from friends, or seeds of N1000, you can cultivate acres of land.
And apart from weeding, you might not spend any other money on the farm after planting till harvesting.
But if you want to buy a baby goat or fowl to rear today, you need something cool as capital to start with, and for feeding till maturity, It can be killing sometimes. Some poultry farmers will rather not eat than not buying feeds for their animals. Lol
5. Experience: Here, I also think, livestock or Animal rearing is more of the real business side of agriculture because you need a great deal of management knowledge, such as animal care, marketing skills and ability to respond quickly to market forces, depending on the kind of animal you keep.
But in crop cultivation, you don’t need as much as the expertise you need in looking after livestock.
6. Environment: With this, I think almost everyone can be a livestock farmer because it’s like a natural way of looking after other creatures and you can be keeping a pet and start making money from it, but not everyone can go into planting side of agriculture, because of space constraints earlier mentioned.
In the latter, you need an agrarian area to explore the arable opportunities.
7. Marketing: This like all businesses is a great deal. It is surprising today that many just enter into businesses without planning well on where their buyers are coming from, who they are and how do they attract them. On marketing, it is easier to sell fresh farm vegetables, pepper, maize, tomatoes, yam than goat, hen, rabbits, fish etc.
Not everyone eats meat or fish often when you consider economic factors, but many will likely eat pepper, vegetables and tomatoes often than animals. This makes Crop sales much easier than livestock. You only need little marketing drive.
So generally to put, I would say livestock keeping is the more profitable for a starter, but with higher risk. While crop cultivation is more easier to start, but less profitable, and with minimal risks.
But for a big investor, Crop planting is more capital intensive than animal rearing. (Note this: For big investment)
The reason for this is from experience, with 3 million naira, you can get a decent profit from initial employed capital, from a goat farm or a small poultry but for a cultivated farm of N3 million, you would will most likely get a less decent profit, compared to the former.
An expert Crop Farming boss once even said, it is rare to make 30% Return on Investment in Agriculture, especially Crop production and I agree.
Conclusively, as a trained Biochemist and an Agro enthusiast, the best of those things we need as healthy diets are more abundant in plants than in animals, so profits not withstanding, I will always go for crop production.
But for you, cross the dots yourself and decide which is suitable for your goal. You can also do your research on other key farming guides.