The essential role of farm workers in farming businesses
By Hanks Saisai |
Farming businesses are vital enterprises that produce food for all people in any country. They generate income for their owners and ensure that local employment opportunities are created for unskilled and semi-skilled segments of the populace.
A key aspect to the success of any farming business that is frequently overlooked is the production input of labour. In essence, the farm worker is key to the success of the different farming enterprises and farmer categories such as communal, resettlement, affirmative action, and commercial farmer.
A farm worker is generally a person employed by a farmer to help with the day-to-day operations of the farm such as the fencing of land, cultivating, herding and all other labour-intensive operations that must be done on the farm.
When one intends to improve or set up a flourishing agribusiness enterprise, it’s of importance to understand the key role of a farm worker in the business.
A farm worker is usually associated with undesirable work on the farm and is quite often overlooked and underappreciated – if not underpaid. However, in order to maximize your production as an agribusiness owner, you need to know that your production input of labour must be well nurtured.
In a livestock farming enterprise, the farm worker has a vital role to play. For instance, in communal setups, the farm worker is responsible for the herding of livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) on a daily basis. The farm worker follows the livestock while grazing to ensure that they are not attacked by predators or stolen by strangers.
Furthermore, the worker makes sure that the owner’s livestock have access to water daily and ensures that all livestock are accounted for. In commercial setups (resettlement, Affirmative Action farms and commercial farms), the farm workers have roles such as herding, feeding of livestock, maintenance of farm fences and repair of infrastructures. All these activities ensure that the farming enterprise can produce a product that can be marketed.
Similarly, in a crop farming enterprise, the farm worker is essential as he does most of the primary activities such as the clearing of land by removing bushes, tilling of the land, addition of fertilizer, sowing of seeds, irrigating the crops, weeding, harvesting, and finally packaging.
All these activities are essential in crop production and in traditional enterprises that are not mechanized, the farm worker does all the labour-intensive activities to ensure that a crop is produced.
To conclude, all agribusiness owners are advised to always ensure that their vital human resource input of farm workers are treated with respect, dignity and made to be part of the planning phase of the business to ensure that the business is productive. Fair wages and incentives are essential to ensure that the workers are content and motivated to perform labour-intensive duties as per their job descriptions.
Finally, farm owners are encouraged to motivate their workers by allowing them to have access to trainings that enhance their knowledge and skill sets, which in turn significantly increases the productivity of each farming enterprise. A job description must be made available to clearly stipulate the tasks that each farm worker has to execute to ensure that the right job is done at the right time.
When all is said and done, farmers and farm owners must remember the following phrase: “A happy worker is a productive worker”.
— Mr Hanks Saisai is Agribank’s technical advisor for crops and poultry.