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Living the farming dream on communal land

2021-09-07  Charles Tjatindi

Living the farming dream on communal land
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Elton Gurirab is living his dream. It has been an elaborate journey of more than 15 years of constant improvement and betterment of his products, a difficult but rewarding chapter of his farming life.

Gurirab is among a handful of communal farmers who have upped the stakes and have managed to produce elite livestock on scarce resources and under trying circumstances. 

From his smallholding in the Okombahe area of the Erongo region, Gurirab managed to breed quality Boer goat and Meatmaster livestock that have attracted national acclaim.

He calls his dwelling /Naras, and it is located 60km West of Omaruru along the Omaruru-Uis Road.

Since taking occupancy of the land a few years ago, Gurirab embarked on improving infrastructure, which involved drilling his borehole for the smallholding.

“Water was a constant problem here, and I had to figure out how best I can venture into stud farming without enough supply of water for the livestock,” he said.

Gurirab is a registered breeder of both the Boer goat and Meat master sheep with their respective associations.

“It has always been a dream of mine to one day own my own piece of land. In fact, I believe it is every aspiring farmer’s dream to have land of your own. So, when I got some land near Okombahe, I knew my journey has kicked off,” he said.

Gurirab started his farming close to two decades ago by buying livestock off the hand as he got them. 

At the time, it was numbers he was after. As such, he brought mixed breeds of both goats and sheep, with the Damara and Van Rooi.

But as fate would have it, the 2013 drought-hit Gurirab hard and he lost most of his cattle, and had to sell the rest to avoid huge losses.

This was in addition to regular challenges of communal farming, which involved limited water, lack of grazing and weak infrastructure.

“Following that drought, I realised there lies greater potential in small stock farming as far as evading drought in the Erongo region is concerned. So, I slowly started to pay more attention to small stock. 

And like a diamond, Gurirab subjected the small stock to a rigorous refining process, which involved slowly introducing better quality animals in his herds.

Soon, his offspring started showing promise, and the world started to take notice. The seed to elite stud farming has been planted and there was no turning back for Gurirab.

But it was 2018 that made a huge difference to his farming when he was listed as a stud breeder.

Since then, he has participated in various livestock actions and shows, where his animals attracted market prices.

Looking back, Gurirab said he would not have gone as far as he did in his farming journey had he waited on first acquiring a formal commercial plot or farm.

All it takes is hard work, persistence and a stern determination to make it work – even on communal land, he said. 

“I applied for the communal land rights, popularly known as 20-hectare scheme and got this piece of land. Land is land – whether communal or commercial. 

“You can make it work on communal land despite the challenges, just remain focused on your goals,” said Gurirab.

Gurirab advised aspiring farmers to work together and share resources and infrastructure where possible, as there is success in numbers.

“We need to work together to help each other grow. One person can contribute something to a group that the other person does not have. That way, we all win,” he said. 

- tjatindi@gmail.com


2021-09-07  Charles Tjatindi

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