Namibia: a sports officer reconciles work and agriculture
While many young Namibians do not view livestock keeping as a business, a growing number of young people have rejected the idea of herding livestock simply as a sign of wealth.
Kavango East sports officer Erastus Someno is one of the few young people to farm cattle and goats in the area as a business, and has employed two other young men to tend his cattle and his farm in Mashare constituency.
Someno, 35, who started farming and building his farm at the age of 30 with just four cows, says it was an uphill battle at first, but the odds have changed.
The hard work has started to pay off.
“It was an interest before I started. During my studies in Cuba, during weekends and holidays, I visited the current Namibian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Nicklaas Kandji, who was Vice Ambassador at our Embassy in Cuba. When we would sit down, he would tell me about his farming activities here in Namibia and the benefits. That’s when my interest in farming started,” said Someno, who recently shared his farming history with New Era.
“Once, when I came back to Rundu on vacation, I discussed my interest in farming with my mother and asked her how we were going to have a farm. She applied through the traditional authority and we got the farm. After graduating from Cuba, I came home, got a job and started building the farm in 2016. It was hard, it was a battle difficult, but luckily I had an uncle, Vilho Hamutenya, who was there for me,” he said.
Someno now farms Boer goats, a mixed breed of cattle as well as Simmental cattle.
His uncle Hamutenya also partly inspired him by seeing how cattle farming improved his life.
“I could see how he was reaping the benefits. So after sharing my agricultural interests with him, he told me that before he could help me, I had to buy some cattle first. I bought some from him. four, and he found me four laborers who I hired to start by fencing the farm and building my farm,” he added.
“During the closing and development of the farm, I collected 14 goats. This was before bringing the cattle. During the storage, I bought cattle from different farmers. When the goats arrived, I didn’t had no borehole and was fetching water from the nearby farm. Rhat was about six kilometers (km) away and a 12 km round trip. I had an old Toyota Hilux with which I had the used to fetch water, and she did just about all the work on the farm.
Someno then managed to dig a borehole to save his cattle from having to travel long distances to drink water at the nearest farm.
“When I started farming, my way of life changed totally. It was difficult for me to try to combine work and farming, as you know, I am responsible for sports activities in the region. Most of the sports activities take place during the weekends and long weekends. , so it was hard for me because during the week I was at work, and on the weekends when I have to go to the farm, there has sports activities,” he noted.
“Sometimes I would drive to the farm at night, just to fetch water for my workers and goats. That was before I drilled a borehole. It was really difficult because when I started this journey, I used my money. I had no cattle to sell because I was starting.
Someno said farming is indeed a positive activity.
“When I started breeding, my uncle helped me get a top quality Simmental bull, which brought me great benefits. Many farmers in both Kavango regions started asking me for bulls, even farmers who started breeding long before me. The bulls, which were sired by my bull, were of good breed and sold better than heifers and bullocks. To date, I have sold about eight bulls A bull can cost N$30,000,” he explained.
The determined Someno said that financially it was hard on his pocket when he started, and maintaining his cattle and goats was difficult.
“Upkeep is expensive for you; vaccines are expensive, so are medicines for livestock. something that wouldn’t give me is coming back anytime soon.
But what I have learned is that once you take good care of your livestock and start selling, you will do well and you will have money to reinvest in your farming activities. . You will have resources to improve your breeding. It is guaranteed that you will get everything you have invested in with profit,” he beamed.
Someno advised his fellow youths to engage more in agricultural activities because with rising food prices, youths should see it as an opportunity to earn money and create jobs.
“You can have your gardens, goats here and cattle there, and you will do business and earn a living. For the sake of food security in the country, we should engage more in agriculture. Every day we we have to eat, and we buy meat, milk and vegetables from supermarkets which all come from farms outside the country. Let’s use agriculture to feed our people, and the government should help us put our products in the market,” he said.