Opinion: Agribank loan beneficiary re-counts 27 years of stud breeding
Agribank’s Petrus Nehale recently caught up with Ernst Groenewald, who received an Agribank Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) loan 27 years ago, and today, he is an established commercial stud breeder.
Since its inception in 1992 AALS has benefited 648 famers at a cost of over N$777 million. The Namibian stud livestock breeding industry currently consists of about 79 000 head of registered livestock.
In the recent interview, Nehale asked Groenewald how he managed where others have wavered?
Groenewald: Originally, I was farming in a communal area and I was one of the first three applicants for AALS loans right at the beginning of the facility in 1992.
I was one of the successful applicants and I moved from the Rehoboth communal area to Otjozondjupa Region to farm commercially. My mindset was if others can do it, I want to do it the same way. Now we are farming at Otjizondu, and I am the owner.
Nehale: How did the AALS loan from Agribank facilitate the transformation of your farming business?
Groenewald: Look! Agribank’s AALS soft loan made it 100% possible for me to acquire and own a commercial farm today. This was the beginning, and it was a healthy economic start. Eventually, I bought an irrigation system with another loan from Agribank and I only had to put up a deposit – and that was years ago.
Nehale: How long have you been farming and what sort of challenges did you experience?
Groenewald: I have been farming actively for the last 40 years, but as a commercial farmer and a stud-breeder, it was from 1992. In commercial farming, I find financial matters the most challenging. For example, my views on the government’s recommendation that farmers should consider selling some of their cattle during drought, I have a different approach. I try to get all my female cattle through the drought. I am pretty sure there will be a shortage of female cattle in the country very soon, and that is why for me and my family, we try to keep our animals throughout the drought.
Nehale: Are you saying there will be a niche market for female cattle very soon?
Groenewald: Yes, yes, yes!
Nehale: Let me take you back a little. You spoke about being a stud-breeder, can you just elaborate on that?
Groenewald: I am a Brahman breeder, and I am the owner of Groenewald Brahman.
This is just a portion of my farming activities as cattle ranching remain my main commercial section. I crossbreed Brahman with different European breeds. Thus, far I have been a successful cross-breeder.
Nehale: With some of those feats, I am sure you have other success stories to share with fellow farmers and Agribankers?
Groenewald: If you are or want to become a farmer, the first step is to be positive, yeah. I tell you what, farming is a big challenge, for you will not know what will happen next month or next year – and that is a very difficult situation to be in, especially in Namibia where it is dry. That is why we must carefully plan every day for the worst scenarios next month or next year.
It does not matter if you bought a farm through Agribank or you are a commercial, communal or resettled farmer – you will not be successful if you do not work hard. I am not just sitting at my farm farming with cattle; I am also doing crop production with irrigation on a mass scale.
I supply onions and other types of vegetables, exporting to markets in South Africa as well. If the economic situation is difficult, evaluate the situation and let us all do something. It is not a matter of sitting there and criticising everything but doing nothing.
Nehale: Now let us come back to why you are here at the Agricultural Show. What are you exhibiting?
Groenewald: An Agricultural Show is an ideal platform to advertise my business, since I manage my farming activities as a business. I get all my connections and clients here, information and first-hand experience on new applications and technologies, and everything else.
Nehale: Then, if I may ask, why is it important for farmers to diversify?
Groenewald: In my farming of 40 years now, I have experienced a lot of droughts but there was no drought comparable to this year’s. It is a very difficult period for our farmers, but what I have learnt – even at my age – is to plan for diverse farming activities as a business and make provision for future – unforeseen eventualities.
Nehale: How confident are you on what the future holds for your business?
Groenewald: I am fortunate to have my wife and my two sons as business partners to manage the farm together, especially the drought. In the process, they pick up valuable experience. My future plan for the business is to equip my family with the necessary experience, to acquaint them with skills and abilities to venture into farming – and maybe one day when I am retired, I am sure there will be people to replace me.
Nehale: Thank you very much, Mr Groenewald. Wishing you and your family forte in your farming business endeavors.
2019-12-03 07:40:43 | 6 months ago