No background? No problem: 5 tips on starting a farm without any agricultural background

Successful businessman Teddy Nuez established Fortune Dragon Farm in San Jacinto, Pangasinan. 

The dragon fruits are individually wrapped in plastic to keep pests away. (Fortune Dragon Farm)

What began as a retirement plan is now a thriving fruit farm that specializes in dragon fruit and fruit crops that are hard to find in the area. The farm is also home to exotic pets like ostriches and livestock animals like rabbits, chickens, and native pigs.

READ: Pangasinan business owner established flourishing dragon fruit farm as part of retirement plan

Even though it isn’t open as a farm resort yet, Fortune Dragon Farm has become a tourist attraction. This is why it’s hard to believe that Nuez started the farm without any farming background. 

He shares some tips on how to start a farm, even without a background in agriculture:

Get the lay of the land. Check out other farms even before you begin to plan your own. Speak to the owner or farm manager, if possible. Many farm owners are more than willing to share advice and offer tips to interested parties. “When someone asks me, I tell them our mistakes (so they can avoid them),” Nuez said.

Consider access to water. “Your prime consideration should be your water source,” Nuez advised, adding that because he didn’t know what to watch out for, he ended up buying his farmland based on the view instead of on factors important to cultivating crops. 

That said, should you end up with farmland that lacks resources like water, don’t give up in finding a solution. In Nuez’s case, it was digging a deep well and building a reservoir. “All challenges can be solved,” he said. “You just have to persevere in finding a solution.”

Proximity is important. An important key to a farm’s success is the presence of the farm owner or a trusted farm manager on the premises. Nuez’s advice for businesspersons who want to go into farming but don’t want to or cannot live on the farm is to ideally buy farmland that they can visit often. “For me, you should be able to visit three times a week, especially in the beginning, if you can’t find someone trusted ,” he said.

Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the farm you want to establish. Talk to other farm owners, seek out the LGU’s agriculturist, read books and articles and watch educational videos. “What I can tell those with zero knowledge is to amp up their research,” Nuez said. “It’s very convenient nowadays. There’s YouTube, Google, you can even find tutorials on how to buy planting materials.”

Don’t wait till retirement to start. In Nuez’s personal experience, setting up his farm involved shelling out more capital than expected, which is why he advises folks who want to retire to a life of agriculture to start building their farm about four to five years before retirement to ensure that they don’t run out of capital. “If you’ve already gotten your retirement pay and you have zero knowledge (in farming) and you make a mistake, you might end up using up your life savings,” he said. “At least if you make a mistake, you still have an income from your work, so you can sustain ,” he said. “And when you retire, generating income. You don’t have to spend so much on it anymore.”

Photos courtesy of Fortune Dragon Farm

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