Agribank’s production loan beneficiary and medium scale horticulture farmer Nelson Ashipala is one of the medium-scale crop producers in the Kavango-West region, who aspires to feed and support livelihoods for many Namibians in the north-eastern regions of the country through food production and employment creation.
Ashipala, whose farming journey started five years ago after he acquired a production loan from Agribank, grows crops such as maize, cabbage, butternuts, onions, tomatoes and many other crops on a 30-hectare piece of land that he leases from Agribusdev’s Sikondo farm in the Kavango West region.
Though he farms on a part-time basis, Ashipala has recruited an experienced full-time farm manager, who supervises and runs daily operations of the farm.
He also employs four permanent employees and about eight seasonal workers during harvesting seasons. “I hope you are aware of statistics from Namibia Statistics Agency that listed Kavango-West as the second poorest region in the country. So, me being able to recruit, feed and support households is what drives me to be persistent about farming. In the end, it brings me joy, given that at least I feed few mouths in the country,” Ashipala noted.
According to him, one of his approaches to farming is to constantly ensure knowledge transfer amongst his employees, as it enhances excellent performance at the farm. In the near future, he plans to resign from his full-time job to concentrate on his farming business, and to be able to supply the market of the north-eastern regions with food while creating more employment opportunities for rural young people.
Speaking about challenges he encountered in his farming journey, Ashipala highlighted the lack of access to the market and the high cost of production inputs.
“There is a will from the farmers to produce but the market is just not there. One must push for the market. There are times where we end up throwing away our produce just because there is no market,” he noted.
He, therefore, appeals to relevant authorities to secure the market for local producers and ensure more consultations between the industry regulators and the producers. He, however, advised fellow young people who want to start farming to initially do their research and equip themselves with the skills and farming techniques before they embark on their farming journey.
Ashipala warned that though farming can be rewarding, it requires patience and perseverance for one to reap its rewards, as there is no shortcut in farming.
“Many people think when one goes into farming, you automatically become a millionaire. You can never become a millionaire overnight in farming.
“Yes, farming can be rewarding, particularly when it is done correctly from the first step until the end; however, it requires time and patience. So, if you have a passion for farming, follow your dreams, do your groundwork and go after your dreams,’’ he enthused.