In 2017, young farmer Vezemba Katuuo (30) drove one of his best cows to a cattle auction. He got a good price for it; N$9 000 to be precise. With the proceeds, he bought Blair, a dog. Blair cost the young farmer the same amount.
Sacrificing a cow for a dog appeared absurd and irregular, but Katuuo has never looked back. In fact, Blair, a specialised male stud greyhound had set Katuuo up for the future. A new farming method to Katuuo was born – dog breeding.
The young farmer, in conversation with AgriToday, said he had always wanted to farm differently. Although he continues keeping on some livestock, his first love fell on dog breeding. And not just any type of dog. It’s a greyhound, his only love.
“When I bought Blair, everyone looked at me funny knowing that I have just sold a full-grown cow and bought a dog with all that proceeds. It was tense moments for me as I often wondered if I did the right thing, but I never looked back,” he said.
Katuuo, who now owns 13 greyhounds, said farming with dogs has far greater yields than any other form of farming. He said the fact that dogs have puppies twice a year makes it a most ideal farming type if fast money-making is your aim.
“When I bought Blair, I used it to make with other people’s dogs. As he was considered to be of superior quality, people would pay hefty prices for such exercise. I charged them a flat fee of N$2 000 for that. Blair would service up to five dogs in a month…you do the maths,” he said.
After six months since buying Blair, Katuuo bought his first female dogs – three of them, which he then used to reproduce and grow his budding farming business. The puppies he gets from his dogs are a sought-after item for farmers in the area, who use it for small stock rearing and serves as protection against predators.
“My puppies go for between N$1 800 and N$2 500. They are all vaccinated and ready for a new owner at just eight weeks. The area we farm in is full of small stock predators such as jackals, caracals and hyenas. Whenever a farmer puts one of these dogs among his flock, no such predator dares come near it,” said Katuuo.
The young farmer, who quit his job at Meatco last year to pursue his passion fulltime, farms in the Aminuis constituency of the Omaheke region in a tiny village of Orevia, located some 90km south-east of Gobabis.
Here, Katuuo reigns supreme; farmers scramble for puppies. Some go as far as paying for such puppies even before they are born. Some of those who buy from him admitted to AgriToday that they too have branched out and are doing their own ‘dog farming’.
Katuuo is undeterred. He knows his forte is protected as he has managed to build himself a reputation through the quality of puppies he supplies to the market.
In fact, he had made several clean sweeps at some regional dog breeding shows in the area where he emerged as both breed champion and overall champion countless times.
“It is all about quality, that’s what counts in this business. It’s a good thing when more people go into this type of business so that we all buy from each other to avoid inbreeding [where a dog keeps mating with its blood].”
Urging other young farmers to venture into new agribusinesses, Katuuo said it is vital to have a passion for the type of business you choose for you to drive it optimally.
“You have to love what you do. For me, I love greyhounds. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be farming with them as they are sensitive creatures that require a lot of tender loving care. “This is a good form of agribusiness. Each of my female dogs can give me up to eight puppies at a time, after only 60 days of carrying them since conceiving,” noted Katuuo.
Katuuo plans to branch out his agribusiness to other parts of the country in the near future. Not a bad dream for a man who farms with a dog breed known for its speed and agility. Sure, expanding his business will be a speedy affair for him.