Back when I started.
Many of us from Northern Namibia have a rural place we call home. That place has plenty of land just that there is no water during the majority part of the year. Because of this coupled with the fact that the land was only previously used for subsistence farming, we hardly ever think of it as productive land.
I always thought of this until I went on a weekend away to a commercial farm. Being on that farm made me realize that there is nothing special about that farm. The land was rocky and dry. They also did not have standing water that they could draw from. Other than the redline, what is keeping us from farming in a way that is profitable?
I begun this journey many years ago. I started planting trees one by one when I was in hostel and bring them home to the village to transplant them. My land was hard and dry, and I did not have enough money to buy a fence so now and then my plant got attacked by my mums goat. None-the-less I persisted farming.
When you start hobby farming, there are two main things that you need to realize, you are starting with “spent land” and you need to take one step at a time. The land is less fertile because its been used for so long without any rehabilitation and that process will take time. Acknowledging that you need to take it slow will mean that you need to maintain your 8 – 5 job in order to get your bills paid.
Do not put all your savings in at once as you are at mercy of nature, take small steps. Invest in equipment and machinery and aim to keep your costs low. The higher the cost on a monthly basis, the more you are likely to feel the pressure right away to want to start making profit sooner.
Currently, I am having 7 fruiting lemons, 10 fruiting guavas, 1 fruiting berry plant, 3 young lemons, a fig tree, a cactus jack plant fruiting and a fruiting pawpaw and a jackal berry plant. I also have some other indigenous plants that sprouted on the land that are fruiting. This is addition to the share I have in Pack farming, which is a small chicken farm that I co- owned with two other friends.
Trying to figure out what is causing the shedding of flowers on my lemon trees.
So how do I then start generating money from this?
- I need to start recording all expenses and income in a journal so that I can see how much it is costing me to have the farm. I have been doing it for the chicken farm but not for the fruit business. Maybe its because I have not begun selling the fruits yet.
- Start noting down what worked and what does not work. For me, I have experimented with mangoes and they died. I have not yet identified why this is the case so I tried a different approach to planting them and see if I succeed. With the chicken side, I noted that buying chicks from hatchery had a high chance of death compared to chicks I buy in the village so I stopped buying those chicks that would die.
- Have a record of how much stock you have and what you are growing at the moment. Knowing the age of your chickens and plants will help you evaluate how much money you are likely to be expecting in the near future.
- And most importantly take notes of pests and diseases affecting your animals and crops and find a way to improve the situation. We noted that our chicken were dying without any sign of illness only to realize that there was a snake attacking them. We killed the snake. With the lemons, If I did not have patience, I would have cut them down like I did with the apple tree. They were shedding flowers until I got fertilizer. They were lacking something.
So hobby farming is not about keeping your hands clean. Even if you keep your 8 – 5 job, you need to regularly visit the farm. I think I want to venture in pig farming after I enjoyed delicious pork my mum sent me for my house warming party. The piglets also seems to be fetching a higher price. So I will add to my mum’s pig so it become a partnership.
One of my mother’s camp for her pigs.
So are you waiting until you have N$40 000 before you can start? I started with a seed I picked up along the road.
Be patience and continue farming.