Cleophas Katuuo, a renowned livestock farmer in the Omaheke region has defied traditional norms and societal stereotypes by successfully venturing in horticulture. Not only has he managed to plant some much needed crops, but he successfully turned his newly acquired mode of farming into a fully-fledged business.
Katuuo farms at Orevia, a quaint village located some 90km southeast of Gobabis along the C23 road to Aminuis in the Omaheke region. It is here where the passion and dream for venturing into crop farming was born.
In the vast red sand dunes of Omaheke, crop farming is almost non-existent – at least when compared to livestock farming. Farming with livestock in this region is highly revered so much so that many refer to this semi-arid region made out largely of woodland and grassland savanna as ‘little Texas”.
Also, the use of vegetables as a staple crop in the Omaheke region has been minimal, making any business dreams in this area a mere pipe dream.
But Katuuo and his family have managed to turn that around.
He told AgriToday that the passion for crop farming started some odd years back as he would maintain a small garden at every place he had put up a homestead. Soon this passion became a feedlot for him and his family.
“We have managed to feed off our garden over the years. Things like pumpkins, water melons, onions, and cabbages have always been in full supply and we hardly buy foodstuff from shops anymore, especially when on holiday,” he said.
Recalling how he ventured into his current crop production business, Katuuo said he discovered how the demand for fresh spinach was in the markets and the limited supply there was in the region. His instincts prompted him to find a way to bridge such a gap.
Today, he has a fully-fledged garden where he grows various types of vegetable, and the demand for his produce keeps surprising him every day.
His garden has managed to supply produce to many other villages, especially during funerals and other traditional gatherings.
“You will be surprised at how much demand is out there for vegetable. People need food, and crop production is all about producing food. You can never go wrong,” said Katuuo.
Starting with simple flood irrigation methods, Katuuo has now graduated to drip irrigation for the garden in his quest to ‘go all the way’.
For a meat lover, the achievement with his garden has been miles ahead of the stereotypes. He has managed to prove that will power defeats all prejudices.
“I sometimes fall into the trap of eating a lot of meat. I am still a meat lover. But I would then take that down with some green stuff and it has been working for me. It can undoubtedly work for anyone. Forget the stereotypes, focus on facts,” he said.
The garden at Orevia has been a symbol of pride for many other villagers in and around the small village. Some have tapped into Katuuo’s story and now have their own small establishments at their homesteads. Others, those who appear to be more sceptical of crop production are eagerly looking on with keen interest.
It is obvious from the clear interests on their faces that it is surely only a matter of time before they too join in to paint Orevia and the entire Omaheke green.