Welcome back, dear reader!
This blog post is a follow-up to the previous one, which discussed crowdfunding and investment platforms as an alternative for market gardening financing. If there's one thing I've learned in my research for my friend, it's that market gardeners play a vital role in feeding local communities. However, as important as they are, there are also many daily obstacles.
Subsidies are valuable supports that many cannot do without. However, there are so many that researching and applying for each relevant grant can become a laborious process. Plus, even when you find an appropriate one, there is no guarantee that it will automatically be awarded to you.
What are the grants and alternative solutions to help with the challenges concerning the lack of financial and human resources? I've put together for you, dear reader, a short list of relevant grants and programs as well as solutions related to access to resources (financial/human)! Hopefully, this will be helpful for some of you.
ACCESS TO FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Dealing with the lack of financial resources can be a major challenge. To ensure your prosperity and a profitable culture, it is essential to analyze the market you are in, your production needs and your operating costs.
UNDERSTANDING THE MARKET
When a product's revenue is important, it usually consists of a fast production cycle and certain popularity with consumers. By analyzing the market and industry reports (EX: Government of Canada) (EX: U.S. Market), you will be able to more easily determine the opportunities and the right times to optimize your production. Once the additional revenues become significant, a good way to distribute them is to reinvest them in technology or in expansion projects to increase the profit margin.
GRANTS ACCORDING TO YOUR NEEDS
My previous blog post introduced you to alternative funding options to grants. I'm taking the time to present a few grant options that caught my eye during my research.
Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN) (Canada)
Grants for young entrepreneurs, SMEs and local production
United States (USA)
I also have another resource for you, dear reader, that comes close to subsidies without being directly one: the Nomisma consulting group Inc. Nomisma helps agri-food producers and processors (including beverages and organic products) reduce their operating costs by strategically leveraging government subsidies and tax credit programs.
After examining the producer's project and its eligibility for one or more financing programs, the group assists with the development of a personalized strategy. Nomisma Inc. prefers a contingent fee when authorized by the funding agency, otherwise, hourly and fixed-rate payments are valid options. It is also possible to consult a financing consultant at no charge.
Of course, you can also explore the automation and technology grant options by region posted on our website as well as Orisha's blog on grants for greenhouse growers applicable in Quebec.
Were you already familiar with some of these grants or do you know of other interesting ones? What was your experience in applying? I'd love to hear from you on this topic, so don't hesitate to write me!
ACCESS TO LABOUR RESOURCES
The main expense for almost all greenhouse growers is labour. On average, both small and large growers represent more than 50% of operating costs. Automating your greenhouse and improving the work environment for your workforce are the two most interesting and accessible options to meet this challenge.
Labour shortage in agriculture is one of the biggest problems for most producers. As an employer, it is essential to rethink your management practices and be imaginative with the non-financial benefits that could be offered.
It is not necessary to have financial benefits to retain employees and attract potential candidates. You just have to stand out in your offer. You could, for example, offer a certain amount of your crops or by-products to your employees, offer lodging, mental health follow-ups, wellness days, focus on recognition and decision-making autonomy to offer a more engaging work environment, etc.
For your permanent employees or foreign workers who come back to help you year after year, offering more comprehensive training on farming basics could be a nice plus! Some institutions and platforms, such as AGRIcarrière, offer e-learning training.
In short, these options are only suggestions, so don't hesitate to think outside the box dear reader! The principles of health, safety and wellness in the workplace are gaining more and more importance in the various labour markets. By adjusting your environment to these concepts, your company will naturally become more attractive!
It has been proven time and time again that automation not only increases production but also the overall quality of the crop, facilitates the management of operations, decreases labour requirements and reduces your annual work time. In fact, many Orisha customers confirm that they noticed a 25% higher yield in the first year and that they accumulated the equivalent of about 3 more weeks of free time throughout the year!
It has been proven that greenhouse growth is usually more productive and profitable compared to other means of production. According to Geoffroy Ménard's conclusions in his book Références technico-économiques en maraîchage diversifié - Budgets d'opération et d'investissements, the average yield observed in greenhouses is around 80 to 120 $/m2. In comparison, the average yield in tunnels is $20 to $40/m2, $3 to $8/m2 for mechanized field cultivation and $5 to $10/m2 for intensive field cultivation (2021, p.7).
The advantage of automation is that your productivity will be even higher, as will your profit, which will allow you to amortize some of the costs while reducing the energy consumption of your greenhouse!
INSECT AND DISEASE MANAGEMENT
The control of insect pests and diseases is very important since these two aspects can generate losses leading to increased production costs. A greenhouse can help to better control these small undesirable beings but does not completely prevent their proliferation if they infiltrate.
To avoid spending too much time, energy and labour chasing these bugs when they first appear, many people use pesticides. However, this option is not for everyone and more importantly, in addition to not being organic, it can be costly.
For an organic and very inexpensive way, you can read our blog post on 5 beneficial insects for your greenhouse and learn which plants attract these insects!
Anyway, after this exhaustive list of solutions to various problems involving a lack of resources of all kinds, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you found some of the information useful.
I would love to hear your opinion, your experiences and even what you would like to read about in future blogs. You can contact me on our social media channels Facebook and Instagram or by email. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas, the Orisha team always loves to hear from you!