What is Agriculture?
A little history of agriculture that might be not that far fetched. Agriculture started more than 10 000 years ago! In a scientific sense, agriculture involves cultivating soil, growing crops and raising live stocks. Additionally, agriculture actually contributed to the growth of civilization.
Now known as Iraq and Iran, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia is where the agriculture activities first started. Another one was along the Nile River which is Egypt.
Moreover, it is said that rice or corn was the first domesticated plant while dogs were the first to be domesticated in the case of animals. However, they used dogs for hunting which then led to cultivating sheep, goats, cattle and pigs.
Early farmers also produced surplus food which in a way acted as a backup plan if any of the crops failed or used it for trade.
Agriculture in Malaysia is considered as an important sector in Malaysia. This specific sector has contributed to the national GDP which is by 12 percent as well as allocated 16 percent of the population with employment chances webbanki.
Plus, Malaysia’s tropical climate is recognized as being the most suited for the production of various exotic fruits and vegetables, especially since there are seldom hurricanes and droughts.
What is the difference between agriculture and urban farming?
In regards to the difference between agriculture and urban farming is that they are indeed a tad different. Urban farming is more or less of an evolution of agriculture. It could also be classified as the alternate option for people who live in the city.
Simply put, urban farming is a farming activity that takes place in the city or any heavy populated areas or towns. Most usually, urban farming is confused with gardening but it in fact has the differences. Urban farming is far different then gardening as gardening your own produce will most likely be for your own consumption.
However, in case of urban farming, it is more on the possibility of utilizing it for mass consumption which also contributes to gaining profit. Additionally, urban farming does not make use of traditional farming methods as they have their own new and upgraded system which also focuses on water supplies.
Some of the urban farming types:
- Vertical farming; which involves increasing the planting areas upwards rather than sideways.
- Rooftop farming; involves using the rooftop or in a built greenhouse which operates with sunlight or LED lighting.
- Outdoor farming; urban green spaces or flat roofs are used to nurture crops.
- Indoor farming; it involves farming in a closed space which relies on LED lighting as a substitute for sunlight and hydroponics instead of soil.
Why start an agriculture business?
Why should one start an agriculture business? Well, this is actually for the sake of making sure the continuation of the people.
As in recent time, with the current economy it is somewhat a reassurance by starting your own agricultural business. Plus the agriculture sector is one that would run for a very long time as people will need raw produce to continue with their lives. It is also a wise thing to do since the start of the pandemic, Covid-19 most of the society are worried that the amount of local produce will not be enough for everyone in Malaysia.
Not only that starting an agricultural business would ensure enough produce for consumption but also for trade or to be sold within the local market. Other than that, for anyone who decides on continuing having an agricultural business will have a steady flow of income as this business is the one thing that the society will need in future.
In addition to that, a report by the World Government Summit titled Agriculture 4.0 – The Future Of Farming Technology published in 2018 stated that by 2050 we will need to produce 70 percent more food for the population. Therefore, this is the great opportunity to indulge yourself in the agricultural business.
How To Start An Online Agriculture Business
Step #1: Be aware of what you’re getting into
Getting into an agricultural business is no easy task. One needs to really be endorsed in the activity or business.
So the very first step is to know what you’re endorsing in. This step is on which produce to choose from, either the business focuses on crops or livestocks or you could even do both. Whichever that you are more comfortable with.
For crops; most likely you would be handling any kind of seeds, grains, vineyards or vegetable production. On the other hand, livestocks which involves raising beef or dairy cattle, sheep, poultry or beekeeping.
There are also other factors that should be considered in starting the chosen business such as, climate, size of land, cost for production and your own financial strength and how well it is on the market. Therefore, you also need to know if the produce is favoured by the society you’re planning to sell to.
In addition to that, you should be ready your mental and physically as getting into this business means using your full energy and mind at a max setting. It will be taxing but with high repays.
Step #2: Recognize your targeted groups
Most businesses would consider their possible buyers or clients. That also applies to agriculture. From the first step, we see that you have to really be aware of your targeted customers or buyers.
Agricultural business in Malaysia is most likely to blossom in a couple of years as it could be said that Malaysia’s soil is the perfect for plantation as well as the climate changes.
It is important that you know the targeted groups as most businesses could only mature after achieving in selling to the targeted groups. It is easier for the agriculture business as raw produce is needed in every home as it is essential in human lives.
Step #3: Plan out the vision and mission of the business
For any person who is keen to open up their own business, they would always have their vision and mission for the business. Without it, no business would operate smoothly as they have no actual plan on running the business to success. They might just run the business halfway and decide that they are not fit for it.
Hence, one should really have a business plan so that the business would flourish and help the society in getting fresh local produce. Most agricultural businesses in Malaysia have a distinct mission and vision in making sure their agricultural business runs smoothly and have a steady flow of business as well as production of raw produce.
Step #4: Have a production plan
For the fourth step! Agriculture is no easy task, there will be challenges that you must go through. However, there are ways to make your farming business much better. It is the simplest step to do which is, having a production plan for your agricultural business. It is important to have a plan in starting any business.
Some of the important aspects that you need to look out for in planning your production plan:
- Own a land
In the case of agriculture, you should really have or own a piece of land or space that is suited to start the business.
Having a piece of land would help a new farmer. It is as if you are given free will in doing whatever you want as it is your land. No one would be able to say anything wrong about what you are doing in that specific land.
Plus, you would be able to test out the land if it is suitable for the choice of produce you are about to invest in. However, it is advisable to check on the type of soil before setting yourself with the chosen land or space.
Therefore, an individual should really make a research on the type of soil that is suitable for the crops they are planning to harvest.
- Steady flow of water source
Next, would be the presence of water. Most farmers would highly depend on water aside from rain water, which could directly be supplied to their farms. Therefore, you should really consider the amount of water supply that you need in continuing your agricultural business as both crops and livestocks need water.
Aside from that, you have to take into account the quantity of production that you are planning to do. This also relates to the popularity of the produce within the market.
- Production Duration
Apart from that, you should consider the production duration for your crops or livestocks. Will it be enough time? Will it be ready in time? What would be the amount of time to turn the produce to profit? Once you are able to slightly predict or foresee these variables, then you are well away in making the agricultural business a success.
Step #5: Accounting and budget
Accounting and budget would be the fifth step!
In every business, one should definitely keep tabs on the money flow of the company. You should always start by fixing a budget prior before starting the business. This is that you could gain money from it, not lose money. It is recommended to be well informed on the money flow as well as being familiar with the financing system.
If you are not a master, you could hire a professional to make sure the cash flow is correct or just slowly do research and practice accordingly. Within the agricultural business there are possibilities of profit as well as losses. With that, you must keep updated with the current cash flow so it does not look as if you are using more rather than gaining more.
Hence, you might need to take note or keep every receipt of every transaction under the company’s name. Other than that, there is also another option in funding your business which is ‘bootstrapping’.
There are two kinds of definitions that you would describe the term. One would be that ‘bootstrapping’ means that in a simple sentence, you seek help or other investors in funding the agriculture business. Another definition of it is that you fund your own agricultural business.
Either way, it does involve a lot of risks especially when you are funding your own business. However, big risk comes with a great return. By funding your own business, you will get free reign in all your income. You could use that for fully funding the business as most bootstrapping risk-takers would do most of the labour by themselves. So you would not need to pay workers.
Even so, if the agricultural business or agribusiness for short matures it will become an instant success you might want to think of taking a few or several workers to help in harvesting or production.
Step #6: Do research on crops and/or livestocks
You have now arrived at the sixth step in creating your agricultural business.
In this step, you would need to thoroughly do research! It does sound like a lot because you have an infinite amount of knowledge that you have to collect and practice if it is the right thing to continue doing but this could be the determining factor of the success of the agribusiness.
One of the ways that you could really get actual results is by visiting other farmers. This would make it possible to have one on one sessions in learning the tricks of producing and nurturing your own produce, be it crops or live stocks. Getting advice from actual farmers would ensure that what you are doing is right as it is some of those who have experience in starting their own agribusiness.
Plus, not everything could be searched or retrieved via the internet. Even if there is, there is no guarantee that it will work in an instant as you will not be able to have a hands on experience in how to carefully handle the crops or livestock as watching videos on it will not guarantee you will be able to follow it 100%.
Furthermore, you should really research the live stocks that you are planning on breeding. That is if you are planning to do so. For that you should plan and get pointers from experienced farmers and read on them as nurturing live stocks is different compared to nurturing crops.
There are different nutrients that you should feed for different kinds of live stocks. Because of these reasons, you should manage your finances well as you would not know exactly how much you would use at the start of your agribusiness. Having a perfect start up plan in the sense of budgeting, would be able to guarantee a steady flow of finance from the start and for the rest of the business.
Additionally, you should always remember to keep going and not stop halfway in creating your own agricultural company in Malaysia. This is because mistakes would be inevitable. So you should really trust the process and let it slowly grow from 3 to 5 years.
Step #7: Monitor production and performance
Now, we are going into the seventh step!
For the seventh step, you will, of course, need to monitor the business production and performance. In every business company in Malaysia or even internationally, one should really monitor the business especially when it is slowly gaining high profit and popularity among the society or the local people of the area. This is to ensure that the quality of the product is maintained and/or could be upgraded.
There are a few things that should be monitored which include:
Bookkeeping, is in a sense keeping a record on the cash flow of the company. Either it be on profits or losses, income or expenses of the agribusiness.
- Biological monitor:
Biological monitoring is to ensure that the crops and/or live stocks are getting enough nutrients and vitamins which would contribute to high quality produce. Plus, it is so that you would know the growth and death rate as well as it is to ensure that the crops would not be manifested with pests or predators.
Aside from that, you should do vegetative surveys and soil surveys. With keeping constant tabs on the crops and/or live stocks, there is a possibility that new ideas for improvements would come about.
- Market products:
Under marketing products, you should keep updated with the amount of sales and market trends. This is so you would know how well your produce is selling within the market. Either it will be in high demand or in low demand. From there you would be able to determine the possible market sales in the future sales.
Step #8: Register your agricultural business
After having planned out the business properly, you should register your agribusiness and make sure to obtain the suitable license and permit. This is so that you would be able to continue your business with ease and with that gaining trust from customers. Ultimately, by having a license your agribusiness has already gained recognition. Therefore, the public would be able to easily trust the business.
Step #9: Create a website
After having full confidence and trust in your agribusiness, it is time to make it online!
There are a lot of platforms on the net that you would be able to utilize such as, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and you could even make your own website or blog which will directly connect you to future clients.
Knowing that the internet is a vast space which delivers messages or news easily with just one click. Nowadays most business companies would choose to promote their products online rather than using traditional ways.
By endorsing in the online market, you would be able to attract more possible buyers which could easily promote the business and become a popular company to get fresh produce. From there, you would be able to offer more services that would benefit your agribusiness.
As an example would be, delivery services straight from the production to the customer’s front door without using a different courier service as you would be offering the delivery services under the company’s name. One might opt to promote it on existing delivery services such as Shopee which also would be a great first step in making your produce obtainable via online.
Step #10: Promotion
Once you have everything in check, it is time for promotions!
Promotion is a good way to keep your current clients and could also be the step to attract new customers. Having promotions on fresh produce would increase sales as most would definitely opt for fresh ingredients or produce for daily food intake which would also keep customers from changing to another company.
Promotions would somehow be as if we are rewarding or appreciating the customers for trusting our business in producing high quality and fresh produce.
In addition, having promotions now and then would not be the cause of losing money. With promotions is how you would increase business in days to come. Not to mention that, the promotion would be visible online. This will make sure to reach a lot more people in Malaysia.
Step #11: Make good connections
The final step is to ensure you have a great network. Having a great connection with clients as well as suppliers would ensure the continuation of the agribusiness if you are planning to have it for a long time.
I am pretty sure that you would really love to have it for a long time! So this final step again, it is really important.
Besides, having a good network could help you in further expanding your business. For example, you could indulge in having seminars of your own by sharing your knowledge in pursuing an agriculture business.
Aside from that, as having the agribusiness online it will be easier for you to reach out to possible clients and directly have an option where the clients could contact you for any business-related problems.
In addition, there would be several customers who could give a few pointers in making your agribusiness a bigger success as there would always be chances for improvements.
After that 11th step well, you are done! It is the end of the short course on starting your own online agriculture business. All the best!
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