Creative business ideas on our farms

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Watercolour wash and ink drawing by Chesney Bradshaw

Creative ideas for small businesses can be found everywhere. I’m always amazed at the creativity of the women who form part of the farming community. I was reminded of this when I saw how the wife of a farmer in the Hartswater, Northern Cape, latched onto a consumer trend in dieting and came up with a business idea.

She is selling her pecan nut flour to baker’s, distributors to baker’s and dried fruit and nuts distributors in five provinces. She also sells the waste product from the pecan nut flour process to poultry farmers.

This farmer’s wife began making pecan nut flour for rusks for her husband, a farmer, who started following the Tim Noakes Banting diet. She decided to help him, according to the main farming weekly in South Africa, with his diet. Before long her pecan nut flour began to take off. She decided to make it on a small scale and is producing 5 t of pecan nut flour a season.

As a woman with a strong sense of community, she uses some of her pecan nut flour income to hold creative classes on the farm. The classes include projects such as making bird feeders, bath salts, baking and craft work. Her students include the children of factory workers, women from the local factory and anyone else in the community. She also teaches the women to make special shopping bags.

I have seen many examples of creative small business formation on farms and in farming communities. Often these new enterprises are masterminded by women. In one instance a woman saved a farm that was no longer productive by coming up with a guest house concept for the tourist market.

Part of this phenomenon is that women are being educated at university and they may well end up inheriting a farm and running it or if they marry a farmer they tend to see opportunities. Make no mistake farming is hard and with the increasingly dry weather conditions, rising raw material prices and the giant buying organisations squeezing down prices of the produce and livestock, they have to be sharp business people as well as agricultural product producers. Let’s not get onto the huge issue of security and safety on farms.

Whereever you are, if you have the inclination, be on the lookout for opportunities. This woman found her opportunity from the small kernel of an idea because of the Banting diet trend. Stay opportunity focused and you may stumble onto something that may eventually earn you income.

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