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Farmers must cultivate entrepreneurial spirit to boost sector

The call comes in a report on research by farm business consultancy The Andersons Centre in partnership with Cranfield School of Management.

It found that UK farming is less entrepreneurial than other UK industries as it has historically been less profit-oriented and more concerned with subsistence and survival.

But the industry is facing significant challenges, highlighted by the recent flooding across the UK and the foot and mouth crisis, and farmers must learn to be more entrepreneurial in their approach.

Dr Muhammad Azam Roomi of Cranfield University’s School of Management, who co-authored the report, said: “It is clear that farmers need to aspire to be successful business people like Sir Richard Branson or Lord Alan Sugar. Even those who do not see themselves like that at all could learn to become more entrepreneurial.”

The report includes advice from successful farming entrepreneurs, and provides key points to help less entrepreneurial farmers develop their business, including engaging with other business people, trying new ideas, and making better and fuller use of farm resources.

Co-author Graham Redman, an agricultural consultant at The Andersons Centres, said: “Of fundamental importance for successful entrepreneurialism on farms is that the business must remain true to its agricultural roots and respects the land and ‘home farm’ as their golden goose which lays the golden egg of entrepreneurialism.

“Farms are remarkably strong places from which to develop entrepreneurial businesses. They have valuable resources, most of which have been relatively inefficiently deployed, and often have a strong capital base.”

Professor Leon Terry, director of agrifood at Cranfield University, said: “It is clear that the agricultural business faces immense challenges. Cranfield is already working with some fantastically innovative farms and producers to help bring the latest technological and scientific advances to agriculture and food production. I think we will see more future-focused farms in the coming years as they seek to build robust and sustainable business models.”