Renowned farmers have urged aspiring farmers to prepare well before retiring to farming, as the sector currently faces a host of obstacles.
Speaking during a farmer’s day organised by the ‘Otjitamba Tjoututa’ organisation in Windhoek on Saturday, the farmers said farming is an enterprise that requires great discipline and planning before taking it on full-time.
Well-known Brahman stud breeder, Albert Tjihero, who made a presentation to close to 200 farmers who were gathered on the day, said many aspiring farmers make critical mistakes that often cost them their money in the end.
He said the first mistake many make is to assume that they could kick off their farming operations on their pension pay-outs, which often leaves them penniless when the venture fails to take off.
Tjihero is of the opinion that if one intends to retire to farming, a lot of planning is needed years before the retirement day.
“Many make the mistake of assuming that it is all a matter of packing up and starting farming. This may have been the case in the past, but not anymore. In today’s world, you would have to do a lot of groundwork before venturing into farming full-time,” he said.
Tjihero said many who only ventured into farming at retirement have had to return to the cities to look for employment in their old age, as the money got depleted too fast.
“If there is no structure, it means you will have to set up a lot of infrastructure, buy livestock, pay workers and other overheads with your pension all at once. This is not only impossible, but a crazy idea to entertain altogether. You will definitely fail if you go this route,” he said.
The experienced farmer also warned against rushing to go commercial with farming activities, noting that there are equally wealthy communal farmers who have managed to reach optimum results with their livestock.
He said the cost of acquiring a farm keeps going up, which often makes farming a non-profitable enterprise to the new farmer who is yet to procure enough livestock to service the farm loan repayments.
“If you are not careful, all you will end up doing is farming for the farm loans. You will be frustrated and could end up quitting farming, believing that it is not a profitable undertaking. But in fact, the secret is in the way you operate,” he
Also speaking at the same occasion, Dr Meunae Kaatura, a veterinarian and lecturer at the University of Namibia, warned against buying livestock without correctly determining their history.
Kaatura said many times aspiring farmers flock to livestock auctions to buy livestock to start up their farming operations, which could prove detrimental if not handled well.
He noted that at auctions farmers often sell off animals that have some form of defects, which could become problematic for the buyer in due course.
“Auctions are a good place to buy livestock, but you need to be wary of the animal’s record. Remember that a farmer would never sell off just any animal in his kraal, let alone the strongest and most fertile animal he has.
“Therefore, make sure you inspect the animal well and look out for any visible and obvious defects on the adder, scrotum, legs and head.”
Kaatura advised that it is better to buy livestock straight from the farmer’s kraal as it provides a more balanced view of its condition.
He added that it is especially vital to ensure that bulls are tested for fertility before buying them, as failure to do so could result in one spending a lot of money on a non-functioning bull.
“You need to ask these critical questions from the buyer. Even better, let him produce a fertility certificate to prove this. In the end, it could be the difference between you flourishing as a farmer or failing as one,” he said.