Makk Kapuka: Quitting the bank to become gardener … the Kapuka brothers work the land
OKASHANINGWA – “Stay away from people who think agriculture is for uneducated people,” screams a meme that recently went viral on Instagram.
The perception, especially among most millennials, that graduating and getting an office job is the ultimate definition of having ‘made it in life’ compared to taking care of animals at the farm or starting a vegetable garden, is something many forward-thinking youth disagree with.
After leaving university, many never ever thought of producing food from the land or raising animals to sell and make their own money. The minds are closed and narrowed down to being employed by government or owners of productive means, mostly white.
Akathingo ‘Makk’ Kapuka from Okashaningwa village in Omusati Region, a trained economist, is one of the young people who refused to remain at his banking job.
Alongside his elder brother Ismael Kapuka who is a research technician at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Makk took a serious risk to quit his job and work with his own hands to produce food and put some money in his pocket.
Narrating his story to New Era, Makk said the idea of establishing a vegetable garden has been there for a while before he left the job at Bank Windhoek in the capital.
He notes that considering that grazing for their animals in the communal area was affected by Etunda Irrigation Project as it was extended all the way to the land where their fathers had cattle posts, they decided several times to benefit from Etunda through asking for water and power but failed.
He and his brother being the best pals decided to put money together and sourced some of the money from various financiers to be able to start the gardening project.
“After buying a few equipment, seeds and fertilisers, we then decided one of us should resign from their job to head the initiative. Me being a risk taker and passionate to work on my own, I decided to leave my job.”
The land, which they received from the father, measures about 17 hectares with production only taking up five hectares.
The water for irrigation is pumped from the canal along the Etunda green scheme.
“For as long as we have access to this water, we will not starve, we will continue to work and make money on our own and empower our people,” said he.
Their first production of tomatoes was in July 2018, from which they since started to grow maize, cabbages, eggplant, beetroots, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.
“We are not doing this to only feed our own mouths, this is our contribution to food security, employment creation and poverty eradication in the country,” says Makk. He notes that though the idea is to employ as many villagers as possible, due to the scale of production and limited customer base they only manage to employ two labourers on a full-time basis at the moment. Full-time employees earn between N$800 and N$1000 a month, with the extra benefits of receiving free vegetables to take home when available.
The number of employees increases to above seven during harvest season, which normally comes after three months when the products are ready for the market.
The farmer says he packs the products, loads them up in a pick-up vehicle and takes it to towns such as Outapi, Oshikango, Ondangwa, and Oshakati as well as nearby villages and small towns such as Ruacana and Tsandi.
Makk says they have big dreams for the project, adding that one day they will bring a processing factory to Okashaningwa where they will add value to tomatoes and other vegetables for export.
“If we can be assisted financially to expand our garden and establish a processing factory, we will be able to employ a lot of young people and feed thousands of families. Our setback is the finance we do not have – hopefully one day we will get a good sponsorship to complement our dedication,” explains Makk as he appeals to those with money to assist.
With the availability of funds the Kapuka brothers also look forward to establishing a fish farm and grow citrus trees to produce fruits and fish.
Being a believer that agriculture is the backbone of any economy especially for Namibia, Makk envisions their products being displayed and sold in the local retail shops such as Pick n Pay and Shoprite.
He says the country does not produce enough vegetables to export yet there are a few, if any, local producers who supply the shops.
He laments the fact that everyone is selling tomatoes and cabbages simply because the market is limited to such products, noting that this can be turned around by creating a demand for other products.
“My aim is to make sure our products are bought in bulk by shops, instead of me driving around to market and sell vegetables at the back of my car.”
“We are in a situation where our people are forced to buy vegetables imported from South Africa or Zimbabwe at ridiculous prices. As young people, we must work towards changing that and be able to have our own products on the shelves at reduced prices,” he advises.
A focused Makk reveals that at this stage they are not making any profit – all the money is being reinvested to achieve a bigger target.
“We are confident that one day we will grow this project to a point where we will make good money and benefit a lot of people; for now we will continue to push back whatever we earn.”
With drought being experienced across Namibia, the Kapukas’ animals are saved from starvation as they are now fed with fodder such as cabbages, tomato leaves and maize stalks from the garden.
“We can never sell fodder to other farmers for now, this is because we promised our parents that we take over the land to produce food and save the animals. Selling such fodder will be an insult to our father.”
For those who might need to buy the vegetables Makk said he could be reached on Facebook@Akathingo Nangae and IG@Makkdaddy. “We will deliver immediately.”
2019-08-29 07:25:58 25 days ago