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close this bookBetter Farming Series 10 - The Farm Business Survey (FAO - INADES, 1976, 38 p.)
close this folderPart 2 - The farm business survey
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhy make a farm business survey?
View the documentA farmer should know the size of his fields
View the documentHow to reckon the length and width of a field
View the documentHow to reckon the area of a field
View the documentHow to measure the weight of a harvest
View the documentHow to reckon the yield per hectare
View the documentHow to reckon receipts
View the documentExplanations to help in answering the questionnaire


The study programme for the second- year course is called: the farm business and its animal and vegetable production. We shall deal more particularly with the farm business in this first booklet of the second- year course and in the last booklet of the course. In the other booklets we shall deal with the animal and vegetable production of a farm. In this first booklet, we ask you to make a farm business survey.

What does this mean - "make a survey"?

Making a survey of a farm business means taking stock of a farm and stating what are its means of production.
For instance:

· How many workers are there?
· How many fields are farmed?

What is the area of these fields?
What crops are grown on them?

· What animals belong to the farmer?

How many are there?
Do some animals work in the fields?

· What tools are used?
· What buildings are there?

Why make a farm business survey?

Many students of the Better Farming courses are farmers who work on a farm. Sometimes this business belongs to them, and sometimes it belongs to their father, or brother or uncle.

Each Better Farming student should have a good knowledge of the farm on which he works.

If he knows it well, he will be able to improve it, for he will have a good knowledge of the means of production used by this farm business.

Many students of the Better Farming courses are agricultural extension workers, or agricultural assistants or community leaders. Their aim is to teach farmers to farm the land better, to breed better animals.

For them too it is necessary to have a good knowledge of some farm.
They will learn how to look carefully at a farm business.
They will see better all the farmers' difficulties.
They will be able to advise them better, and help them better in their everyday work.

How to make a farm business survey

1. If you own a farm, or if you work with your father, or brother or uncle, choose the farm business in which you work.

Read the survey questionnaire. At each question, note how things are on the farm where you work.

In answering the question, do not invent an answer which will please the enumerator or supervisor. Say exactly what happens on the farm.

For example:

You are asked if you put manure on the fields. If on your farm the animals are not shut in, you cannot make manure. So you should not say that you put manure on the fields.

For example:

You are asked if you apply fertilizer to your plantation. If you do not apply fertilizer, you must not say that you do.

The farm must be described exactly as it is. Answers must not be invented.

2. If you do not own a farm, or if you do not work on a farm, choose a farm that you know well.

If you are an agricultural extension worker or agricultural assistant, choose a farm which you regularly visit to advise the farmer. Ask the farmer to give you the necessary information. Make a note on paper of all this information and then fill in the questionnaire of the survey.

If you have some other job, such as that of schoolteacher look for a farmer or planter in your neighbourhood who will give you the information you need. You can also choose a farm in your native village, or your old father's farm, or that of your uncle or one of your cousins. Ask them questions, make a note of the answers to these questions.

Go and look at the fields yourself. Measure the area of each field. Weigh the traditional measures, such as a cask and a calabash (gourd) to find out how many kilogrammes of millet a cask or a calabash contains.

A farmer should know the size of his fields

A modern farmer should have regular- shaped fields, with square corners. That is, corners that make right angles.

These two corners are not square. They do not make right angles.

A square corner. It makes a right angle.

A corner of your booklet is a square corner because it forms a right angle.
Farmers should nowadays make all their fields with square corners.

Fields with square corners

Most modern fields have the shape of a rectangle. A rectangle is a field with 4 sides and 4 square corners. Your booklet is a rectangle, because it has 4 sides and 4 square corners.

The 2 bigger sides are called the length.

The 2 smaller sides are called the width.

When the length and the width are the same, the rectangle is called a square.

A good farmer should know the length and width of his fields. To know the length and width of a field the field must be measured.

Measuring the length or width of a field means knowing how many metres there are in this length or width.

How to reckon the length and width of a field

You measure the length or width of a field in metres.

A metre is a unit of length.

At shops you can buy a wooden folding rule, or a tape which measures exactly one metre. But you can make a metre measure for yourself. Take a stick that is quite straight, or a piece of string or rope. Take five times the length of your booklet (the bigger side of the booklet) and you will have a length of about one metre (1.05 metres exactly), because your booklet is 21 centimetres long, that is 0.21 metre (0.21 X 5 = 1.05 m). To get just one metre, take off the stick, or string or rope, the length of your thumb.

With this stick, string or rope, you can measure the length and width of your field.

As these distances are often very long, the length or width of fields is often measured with a rope or chain of 10 metres. (This rope or chain is called a decametre). If you have a rope long enough, you can yourself make a decametre. Take the metre that you made first and put it along the rope ten times. That will give you a decametre. It will enable you to measure much more easily the length and width of your field.

The extension workers or agricultural assistants sometimes have decametres. You can ask them to measure your fields.

How to reckon the area of a field

The area of a field is measured in square metres (m²).

To reckon the area of a field that has the shape of a rectangle, multiply the length in metres by the width in metres.

Area of a field = length x width

Example: I have a field which is 54 metres long and 22 metres wide; the area of the field is

54 m x 22 m = 1 188 m². I have another field which is 187 m long and 84 m wide; the area of the feed is

187 m x 84 m = 15 708 m². I have a garden which is 21 m long and 8 m wide; the area of my garden is 21m x 8m= 168 m².

Usually, to measure the area of a field, we use another unit of measurement which is more useful than m². This is the hectare (ha). A hectare equals 10 000 m². It is the area of a square field, the four sides of which are each 100 metres long.

How to change into hectares the area off a field given in m².

You simply put in a decimal point four places back, thus:

15 708 m² = 1.5708 ha
1 188 m² = 0.1188 ha
168 m² = 0.0168 ha

How to measure the weight of a harvest

Often when you ask a farmer how much he has harvested, the farmer says: " I harvested 22 casks of rice," or " I harvested 18 baskets of cotton," or " I harvested 5 sacks of coffee."

Usually farmers do not use the same units of measurement to measure the amount they have harvested. So it is difficult to compare the harvest of one farmer with the harvest of another farmer.

To do that, it is better to measure the amount harvested in kilogrammes (kg).

You can measure the weight of a harvest in kilogrammes on scales or on a weighing machine. The dealers or trading companies who buy agricultural produce have scales to weigh the harvest of each farmer.

But sometimes the dealers cheat the farmers in weighing their produce. So it is often worth while for all the farmers of a village to have their own scales.

Then each farmer can know exactly how much he has harvested from each field of cotton or millet or cocoa. When he sells he cannot be cheated by the dealer, because he knows the weight of the cotton, millet or cocoa that he is selling.

If you have not got a pair of scales, you can get someone to weigh the rice contained in one cask, let us say 8 kg. Then, if you have harvested 22 casks, that makes about 8 kg x 22 = 176 kg.

How to reckon the yield per hectare

To find out if the harvest has been good, you often need to reckon how many kilogrammes you would have harvested if you had a field of one hectare.

When you have worked out this Figure, you have reckoned the yield per hectare. Example:

I have a field of groundnuts that is 54 metres long and 22 metres wide. The area is: 54 m x 22 m = 1188 m². I harvested 94 kg of groundnuts from this field.

What is the yield per hectare?

To work this out, I use what is called the rule of three, thus:

From an area of 1 188 m² I harvested

94 kg

For 1 m² I would have harvested

94 kg/1188

For 1 ha (or 10000) m² I would have harvested

94 x 10000/1188= 791 kg

Another example:

I have a field of maize which is 165 metres long and 74 metres wide.
Its area is 165m x 74m= 12210 m².
I harvested 924 kg of maize on this field.
What is the yield per hectare?
I use the rule of three:

On an area of 12 210 m² I harvested

924 kg

On 1 m² / would have harvested


On 10 000 m² for 1 ha) I would have harvested

924 x 10000/12210 = 756.7 kg

How to reckon receipts

The receipts are the money a farmer gets for selling his produce.

Mamadou is a farmer who grows:
0.8 ha of cotton
0.5 ha of groundnuts
0.6 ha of millet
0.4 ha of rice

He weighs all his harvests.
He has harvested;
640 kg cotton
450 kg of groundnuts
420 kg of millet
360 kg of rice
He keeps, to feed his family:
100 kg of groundnuts
360 kg of millet
150 kg of rice

He sells:

640 kg of cotton at 28 F: 28 x 640

= 17 920 l

350 kg of groundnuts at 17 F: 17 x 350

= 5 950 l

60 kg of millet at 15 F: 15 x 60

= 900 l

210 kg of rice at 20 F: 20 x 210

= 4 200 l

So the farmer's receipts are:


17 920


5 950





28 970 francs

But the farmer has perhaps sold other things besides his harvests. Perhaps he has sold an ox or a calf, some sheep, chickens, or eggs. Perhaps he sold some okra, pimentoes or tomatoes.

All the other products sold must be added in order to get the farmer's total receipts.

Explanations to help in answering the questionnaire

The questionnaire for this survey is long. There are five parts. Each of these parts deals with one of the means of production of the farm business:

· Farm labour (page 2 of questionnaire)
· Farm animals (page 3 of questionnaire)
· Farm land and products: garden, plantations, fields, pasture (pages 4 and 5 of questionnaire)
· Farm buildings (page 6 of questionnaire)
· Farm installations and tools (page 7 of questionnaire)

In the following pages we give some explanations so that you can answer the questions better. Read these pages several times, so that you will understand better what you are asked.

Think well before answering. Take good note of what is done on the farm. Do not invent answers. Say exactly what there is on the farm.

Page 2 of questionnaire


First of all it is important to say to whom the farm belongs, who is head of the business.

You must also say if you work on the farm.

Then it is important to know how many people work all the year round on the farm. Include only those who remain in the village all the year, and who work on the farm all the year.

In the following question you can say if some people come from time to time to work, for example, students during their holidays, brothers, or cousins, or friends.

Page 3 of questionnaire


There are animals on almost all farms.

First of all you are asked to say what animals live on the farm.

If there are cattle (cows, oxen) you answer "yes" after "Cattle," and then you say how many males, females and calves there are. If there are no cattle you write "no" after "Cattle."

You do the same thing with the other animals: sheep, goats, pigs, chickens. If there are other animals which are not listed in the questionnaire, such as donkeys, horses, camels, rabbits, guinea fowl, write the name of the animal under the other names of animals, then say how many are males, females, young ones.

Next you must say what these animals are used for.
Are they raised for meat, or milk or eggs?
Are they raised for sale to earn money?
Are they raised for farm work such as ploughing, and for transport?

Pages 4 and 5 of questionnaire


The two pages on land are divided into four parts:

1. Garden
2. Tree plantations
3. Fields
4. Pasture

1. Garden

On the farm there is perhaps a place where, for example, pimentoes, or tomatoes, or okra or onions are grown. Name all the plants grown in this garden. Say also if the farmer sells vegetables grown in the garden. If there is no garden, answer "no" and go on to the next question.

2. Tree plantations

Plantations are land where trees are grown. In the questionnaire each rectangle represents one plantation. Fill in as many rectangles as there are plantations. In the forest regions, the plantations are chiefly of coffee trees, cocoa trees, oil palms, coconut palms, bananas. In savanna country the plantations are chiefly of fruit trees such as mango, orange, lemon or papaw trees.

If the plantation is very small, for example, it has three or four mango trees, give only the number of trees, do not give the area. If the plantation is very big, for example, coffee trees, give only the area of the plantation and not the number of trees.

3. Fields

In the questionnaire each rectangle represents one field. Fill in as many rectangles as there are fields.

For example: Yeo has a field of cotton, a field of millet, a field of groundnuts.
Yeo has only three fields, so he fills in only three rectangles.

Field of cotton

Field of millet

Fields of groundnuts


0.7 ha


0.8 ha


0.5 ha


560 kg


640 kg


400 kg


560 kg



300 kg


16 800 f




7500 f

When a farmer has not sold a product, or example, millet, fill in only the first three lines of each rectangle; do not fill in the last two lines.

4. Pasture

Are there places where fodder crops for animals are grown, for example, a seeded fallows
Page 6 of questionnaire


A modern farm should have special buildings.

There may be three kinds of buildings:

1. Buildings to house the animals:

· a cow shed for cattle (cows, oxen);
· a shed for sheep or goats;
· a pigsty for pigs;
· a henhouse for poultry (chickens, guinea fowl);
· a stable for donkeys or horses.

2. Buildings for tools:

· a shed for implements, such as: hoe, machete, sickle plough, mechanical cultivator, seed drill, rice thresher, coffee pulping machine;
· a store for fertilizers and pecticides.

3. Buildings for the harvests:

· a granary for storing millet, rice, groundnuts;
· a hut for storing cassava or yams;
· a shelter for drying coffee or cocoa.

Take note whether there are such buildings on the farm. Do not invent your answers. If there are no buildings of these kinds, answer "no" to the questions.

Page 7 of questionnaire


First of all, say whether the farmer has made any installations on his farm, such as digging a pit for making compost, or arranging a place for making manure, or digging a well to get water, or digging channels to make an irrigated rice field.

Do not invent answers if there are no such installations.

Answer "no" to the questions.

Next, list the different tools that belong to the farmer.

List first the hand tools, such as: hoe, machete, knife, sickle, spade, dibber, rake.

Then list the tools drawn by animals (if the farmer works with animal power), such as: plough, cart, harrow, marker, cultivator, groundnut lifting plough.

Finally, list the other machines, such as: rice threshing machine, coffee pulping machine, pesticide applicators, millet grinder, scales for weighing produce.