Aina Imalwa, a small-scale farmer under the government’s green scheme has taken the bull by the horns by embarking on a mission to feed her country.
The 29-year-old farmer conducts her small-scale vegetable farming on a plot at the Etunda Irrigation Project under the line Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.
It is from here that she intends to see her biggest dream of becoming a constant supplier of fresh produce for herself and others become a reality.
Imalwa has already set the wheels in motion; she has a budding vegetable business that produces sweet potatoes, carrots and mealies amongst other crops for her market.
The farmer told AgriToday she intends to add cabbage to her list of crops soon, given its market potential. After undergoing various theoretical and practical training in crop production and agronomy, she decided to start her own agribusiness initiative last year. From humble beginnings, the agribusiness is now set to grow, she said. Once the produce is ready for the market, Imalwa hires cars to take the products to nearby open markets and villages. It is a costly exercise, but one that is rewarding as she gets direct access to her customers.
“I hire these cars to reach places where I could otherwise not reach. I have learnt that despite the cost, one has to invest in your business and make sure that you reap the best of fruits from it,” she said.
Realising the hardships under which many villagers live in the area around her enterprise, Imalwa makes use of local villagers during her harvesting, in addition to the two people whom she has on a permanent employment basis.
She also donates all residue produce to the villagers, including products that are too small in size or not properly formed for the market.
“I know that as a resident of this area, I also have to play my part in giving back to the community. It may not be much, but at least one or two families end up with something on their table to eat at the end of the day,” she said.
The agripreneur noted that despite its challenges, small-scale farming has its benefits, but one must work hard to get the desired products at the end of the day.
She advised would-be farmers to have a hands-on approach to their farming, as it helps to make sure all is being done according to plan.
I make it a habit to be among my crops; inspecting them and making sure we do not suffer unnecessary losses. It is important because that is why you are in business - to succeed, not fail,» she said.
Imalwa believes that food security is possible for a country with the population of Namibia, and encourages farmers to also diversify their activities into producing food for the country.
“We can make it. There is no need to depend on South Africa for everything. Start by feeding the community next to your business and then expand - soon you would be covering a large part of the country and maybe even export. Why not? Nothing is impossible,” she noted.
Imalwa encouraged women farmers to never give up but to continue until they reap the rewards of their hard work because “...it is possible, nothing is impossible...”