Some things in life are meant to be learnt the hard way

Taranjiv Singh is a law graduate who once served in Malaysia’s biggest broadcasting company.

While exploring his farming venture, the 40-year-old started driving for an e-hailing company some seven months ago.

Taranjiv shares his tales with Twentytwo13. This week, he shares about his farming venture and how his passengers react to his ambitious dream.

“I’ve enjoyed a wide range of interesting conversations with my passengers. It could be about food, the weather, or sometimes listening to their views on politics.

However, one subject that often piques their interest is my farming venture.

I’ve had random conversations with my passengers from diverse backgrounds about the agriculture industry. While most of them seem envious of the dream, there are those who have admitted that farming is in their retirement plans.

There have been a handful who are also inspired to ditch their current jobs and take up agriculture seriously.

The one thing I wished I had during my early days in the farming business was a mentor. My two other business partners and I dived into the industry armed with what little we had read and observed.

It has certainly turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

I am not discouraging anyone from taking up the challenge of growing vegetables or rearing cattle, but I think anyone who wants to enter this business must be aware of the real hurdles.

For starters, it’s difficult to find someone who would actually share the challenges and tribulations of setting up such a business. It’s extremely competitive and you often start out on your own. People will only start talking to you when you start producing results consistently.

Getting reliable workers on the farm will be a constant nightmare. The workers will quickly be drawn to less taxing jobs, and the hunt to find new workers, will continue.

The saying ‘go big or go home’ is true in agriculture. There has to be volume in order for you to see the desired results. The main problem will always be sourcing for funds in the initial days.

You need the right type of soil and good weather, and never underestimate the power of fertilisers. And you need to constantly keep pests at bay.

Don’t put too much hope on government assistance. While there are grants, getting them is a bonus – despite you ticking all the right boxes. If you do get help from the relevant ministry or government agency, thank your lucky stars.

Selling your produce can be tricky. While the government has fixed the price on vegetables, the reality on the ground is different. Just visit any of the pasar borong and you will be at the mercy of the wholesalers there, including foreigners, who dictate prices on a daily basis.

One key thing that we have also learnt is that one has to be hands-on, 24/7. This will ensure that you know what’s happening and can quickly take corrective measures to solve the problem.

After hearing all this, several of my passengers realise that running a farm is no easy business, and cannot be done remotely, or as a part-time ‘thing’.

They will often be in deep thought upon getting out of the vehicle. Such a realisation is important. I wished there were mentors readily available to guide us on the do’s and don’ts but there are some things in life that you just have to learn the hard way.

And growing vegetables is one of them.”

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