How did you get started in this line of business?
Living in an agrarian community for generations, farming is deep rooted in our family. I started a small dry-season rice farm a decade ago on a small plot of land that was given by my parents as a wedding dowry. Over time the farm was expanded into a 10-hectare plantation producing 100 tonnes of crops annually.With an agriculture financing loan from Amret, I expanded my plantation business quickly and thereafter venturing into fresh water fish farming and more recently into the swift nest industry business as well.
Can you tell us about the farming method you apply? How does this contribute to the quality of the yield?
The farming method presently administered in my rice plantation does not vary far from conventional cultivation practices. The only difference is that we regularly experiment with new ways of doing things and integrate proven modern practices into the cultivation process.
Beginning from crop selection, I have experimented with different paddy varieties over the years to find the most suitable variety for cultivation at my plantation. After extensive field testing, I made the decision to select the OM5451 variety as it is easy to grow, adapts well to the local environment, and resistant to major crop diseases – resulting in higher yield and better market price.
While crop selection is important, soil preparation also plays a significant part of the crop cultivation process that contribute to improving crop quality and production. Tilling makes the soil level to enable seedlings to grow easily, uniformly, and prevent rats from damaging crops. This is then followed by seed sowing using a seedling machine to ensure that the plants do not develop to be either too thick or too thin and affect crop developments.Then comes the most important part - weed control and fertilisation. Herbicide is applied to control weed growing and fertilisers are added in small amounts in three different stages to provide sufficient nutrients. Around 90-95 days, the rice crop is mature and ready for harvest. At this stage, the traders would come to my plantation to negotiate the price, and they would buy the crops directly at the paddy field right after harvest.
Does advancement in the agricultural sector play an important role in developing your business? What changes do you think have the biggest impact?
The agricultural sector has evolved significantly in the past 10 years. This makes life of farmers much easier, especially those who own large plantations. With modern irrigation systems, farmers can adequately supply water to their farms with efficient pumps that are cost effective.
I believe diversity of crop selection represents a major advancement that will benefit rice farmers. Modern crop varieties are easier to cultivate, adapt well to the environment, are resistant to major crop diseases, and produce higher yields. Furthermore, using the latest crop cultivation tools and state-of-the-art farming machinery has made work easier for us at the plantation throughout the entire rice cultivation cycle from ploughing, tilling, seedling, weeding to crop fertilisation and harvesting. It has made a huge impact on our plantation operations by not only saving us time but also lowering our cost of labour as well as improving the quality and quantity of crops produced.
Our communities and people play a big part towards the success that we experience in life and business. And in appreciation to the Kamnab commune for their encouragement and support over the years, plans have been made to build a small-scale water treatment plant to supply clean water to families in the community. In addition, the purified water produced will be stored inside a 1.5 hectare artificial pond to be distributed to every household within the six villages of the Kamnab commune. This community project is expected to begin operations within the next three years once approval is given by the relevant authorities.
What are the skills needed to become a successful businesswoman?
Everything starts with you! The first and most important step to becoming a successful businesswoman is to understand clearly what your dream is and believe in it. Along the way you are going to face obstacles and challenges – so always remember; there is no triumph without struggle. In preparation, you have to be mentally prepared to deal with these struggles and never give up on your goal even when you begin to doubt yourself. If you give up when things get tough, you will give up again and again and can never achieve anything. It is hard but not impossible. Determination, resilience, and self-belief are all you need. Besides, a successful businesswoman ought to be able to think ahead, aware of the little details, and know how to plan. Management, budgeting, and networking skills are also essential to achieve success.