When Hilja Nangombe Amvula graduated in 2017 with an Honours Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science from the University of Namibia (Unam), she failed to secure gainful and meaningful employment.
However, this did not deter the 24-year-old female visionary who instead grabbed the opportunity to venture into piggery farming.
Today, Amvula is a full-time farmer and she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree. Explaining how she became to pursue the business, Amvula narrated that after months of searching for a job, she met her former lecturer who in turn introduced her to a female local farmer in the Okondjatu area of Otjozondjupa region.
This is where she started producing and selling different feed for animals.
“That is how I entered the farming industry. I started producing feed and I turned professional in producing feed for all sorts of animals and throughout my journey with her, I also got an opportunity to meet a lot of people in the industry and learn from them,” Amvula said.
In 2019, she was awarded an Innovative Business Woman of the Year award at a women in business conference held in Windhoek.
With her prize money, Amvula bought five piglets while a local farmer sponsored another five piglets to establish her piggery, which she did at her mother’s homestead at the Omaku village in Tsandi constituency, Omusati region.
As the business grew, she acquired a bigger piece of land, off the Iitananga-Omakange road, where she is currently farming with pigs as well as growing yellow maize and sunflowers. These crops compliment her pigs’ feed and cut on the overall feed costs.
“Last year, we sold our first stock of 52 pigs, that were sold to informal markets as the demand was very high. Today, I received a lot of requests to start supplying pigs and we look forward to start supplying bigger markets such as the Amarika Cooperative butchery in Okahao and companies like African Meat Market,” Amvula enthused.
Although she has always been passionate about farming, she admits that she needed some expert advice to thrive in her farming business.
For this, she extended gratitude to Agribank’s agri-advisory services through which she received mentorship, guidance and support to successfully grow her farming business.
“The intervention of Agribank has always been helpful. You know, as a startup farmer, I always attended Agribank trainings and lectures that really opened my eyes on different farming aspects and agribusiness investment opportunities. Agribank’s mentor for the northern regions, Pendukeni Hamunyela visits my farm regularly. I am excited by the introduction of the women and youth loan scheme by Agribank as I intend to apply under this scheme and grow my business,” Amvula stated.
Some of the challenges Amvula experienced as a new farmer is a lack of water in her area, high cost of feeds as well as finances to support her daily farming operations. She supports two employees and in future, plans to create internship opportunities to students in the agricultural field.
Amvula has urged the youth to not allow the lack of land or start-up capital to prevent them from living their farming dreams.
“Everyone knows that land is an issue in this country, so youth, do not limit yourself because you don’t have land registered under your name, you can lease from someone. Start with what you have, approach people, be patient as farming requires time, and if you are a graduate, be willing to leave your degree as a paper behind. In agriculture there is no degree as a paper, there is only a degree as a practical experience, meaning you apply what you were taught at school,” she concluded.