Notes to broadcasters
Keeping records is an important part of financial planning for farmers. With careful financial planning, farmers can:
- Earn more money from crops and livestock.
- Determine what expenses they will be able to afford in the future.
- Determine which crops will be the most profitable.
- Identify potential financial problem areas in advance.
These short stories of farmers’ personal experiences with budgets are meant to be incorporated into more general programming about budgets and financial planning. (See scripts 1 and 2 in this package.) They serve as examples of the kinds of experiences rural people have when they keep financial records. They can be used as spots and inserted in appropriate spaces or slots between other programs. Set the scene for each story with background sounds and an introduction and conclusion if appropriate.
The best way to develop useful programming for farmers about preparing financial plans is to visit rural people and interview them about their real-life experiences with budgets.
A few years ago, I wanted to grow a new type of high-yielding cotton. I understood from other farmers that I could make more money. So I was interested. But I was also cautious. I didn’t want to risk a lot of money. So I bought just enough seed to plant a small plot with the new cotton variety. Then I kept financial records.
How did I do that, you ask? It was quite simple. Every time I spent money on this new crop, I wrote it down. I wrote down how much I spent on seed, on pesticides, on transportation to market … everything I could think of. And I also wrote down how much money I received for selling the cotton.
After selling my crop, I had two big lists. One list of all my expenses and one list of all my sales. I added up the two lists and compared them. I was surprised to see that my costs were much higher than my income. I had lost money by growing the high-yield cotton. It’s a good thing I didn’t plant more land with the new cotton! Otherwise, I could have lost much more money. I saved money by keeping records and experimenting with my new crop on a small plot.
Hello. I’d like to introduce myself. I am not a rice farmer! I am a financial planner!
I say this because every other farmer in my village grows rice, but not me. I don’t grow rice because I make more money growing cassava and maize. I discovered this fact when I made a budget. I’m happy to tell you more about this.
Five years ago, I tried an experiment. I grew cassava and maize on one half of my farm and rice on the other half. I kept records for each crop. I wrote down everything I spent on the rice: how much I spent on seed, how much on pesticides, on hired labour, and on fertilizers. I even recorded the time I spent weeding … I wrote down everything. And I did the same thing for the cassava and maize field. At the end of the season, I sold my crops.
Then I sat down and completed my records. I added up all the costs for all the crops. Then I added up all the money I received for selling the crops. I was surprised to find out I made more money from growing cassava and maize than I did from growing rice. So I switched to cassava and maize. Now I am a cassava and maize farmer, and not a rice farmer. (Laughing) I am also a richer farmer! And keeping records made me richer!
Ten years ago, I was a good farmer. But the rains in our area were unpredictable, and my crop sometimes failed. In order to have a steady supply of water I decided to build a rainwater storage system. But I didn’t have enough money at the time. So I went to the bank and asked for a small loan.
At first, I don’t think the bank manager took me seriously. Then I pulled out a bag full of papers and placed the papers on his table. The papers showed my farm records for the previous ten years. With these records I was able to show the manager that I had carefully and constantly improved my profits over the last ten years. They showed him that I had made many wise choices when planning my budget. And they showed him that I was a smart and serious farmer.
The manager was impressed. I received a small loan. I bought the necessary materials and constructed a rainwater storage system. It worked well, and I was able to pay back the loan ahead of time. I was taught by my parents and grandparents to work hard. But you need to be smart too. And doing a budget is smart.
Contributed by Vijay Cuddeford, Toronto, Canada.
Reviewed by Helen Hambly, Research Officer, International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), The Hague, The Netherlands.