In 2015, young upcoming farmers came together to share ideas and help each other with farming-related challenges.
This was done by sharing ideas and lessons learned on various farming techniques and practices.
This was the birth of the Emerging Farmers Association (EFA).
Six years later, the association is still going strong and has managed to retain all its membership, which is drawn from farmers in various disciplines and sectors.
The ages of the farmers who are members of the association range between 24 and 35.
Vezemba Katuuo, who spoke on behalf of the group, told AgriToday that the association’s memberships extend from small stock farmers and cattle breeders to poultry farmers and dog breeders.
He said the wide scope of the members’ interests has been an advantage for the group, as each one brings to the table his level of expertise and experience.
“We never thought we’d come this far – even though that was our vision. It is without doubt that the different members of the association pulled together to make sure we remain active and relevant,” Katuuo said.
The association holds an annual farmers’ day, where different methods of farming, advice and tips are shared. The day takes place at one of the members’ homestead on a rotational basis.
Katuuo, who is a prolific dog breeder, said the first farmers’ day was held at Tjipee Hiangoro’s Steenboklaagte in 2016, while the latest event was at Orevia village in the Aminuis constituency.
Hiangoro’s exploits in the farming sector was already highlighted in an earlier edition of AgriToday.
“During such occasion, the different farmers come together to share ideas and inform each other on better farming methods. We have also found that communities living around the area where the farmers day is being held are always interested in joining the day and have done so consistently over the past four events we hosted,” he said.
According to Katuuo, record-keeping has been one of the main problems for farmers, especially those in the communal areas. He noted that while many do not regard proper record keeping as being vital to their farming enterprises, others are not clued up on how to effectively do it.
“Keeping proper records are important for any farmer. It is important to know the exact birth date of a calf or lamb and also on when it was vaccinated and so on. Sadly, this is not always forthcoming from our farmers,” he said.
Katuuo noted that record keeping is vital to avoid inbreeding, as it keeps track of how animals are born and from which sires.
Another challenge is a lack of proper infrastructure for the upkeep of livestock, as many farmers’ holding pens, kraals and camp fences are not well maintained.
“Some farmers have been downplaying the importance of proper infrastructure. This is a big mistake as an absence of proper farm infrastructure could lead to animal theft and difficulty in handling especially during vaccination and so on,” he said.
The EFA plans to have even more engagements in the coming year and diversify its membership base, Katuuo said. - firstname.lastname@example.org