High rental fees, stock theft, water problems, crowded communal areas and expensive land are among the factors holding female farmers from prospering in their farming.
Around 15 female farmers met recently on the outskirts of Windhoek to empower each other through knowledge sharing as they strive to improve their farming practices.
They tackled various aspects of farming, such as animal health and farming finances, as they looked at different farming methods. The group comprised those involved in crop farming and animal husbandry (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry).
Meeting under the theme ‘when a woman is empowered, the family is empowered, and when a family is empowered, the Nation is empowered’, the group who calls themselves Omkhâisens Taradi shared information and had guest speakers who took them through the sessions.
“The programme was very short and dense, the facilitators and the quest speakers knew what the group expected, and knowledge gained was precise,” Adelma Damases said at the end.
Damases, with her husband John, farm at Okorusu number 88 in the Otjiwarongo district with goats, sheep, cattle and poultry. However, they are maize and grass farmers on a very large scale, producing animal feed on a large scale.
“The Government has also taken us in through the Namsip programme as seed producers of Namibia,” she said.
Last year the Damaseb couple helped drought-stricken Kunene and Erongo farmers with a donation of 1 200 grass bales. They also hosted a farmers’ day for around 90 farmers from the Visionary Farmers group.
Another participant Roswitha Brendell, a food scientist in training and the co-founder of Wellance Lifestyle Investment cc, based a few kilometres outside Windhoek, strives to develop safe and nutritious food products to enhance and promote the food processing industry in Namibia.
In their plot, the Brendells focus on quality food production and researching cost-effective processing methods.
“We have a research garden at Brakwater, whereby we are experimenting on natural ways of planting different products and using companion planting methods with herbs and vegetables. We are also selling herb seedlings and plants to fund our research. Currently, we do have strawberry seedlings and plants and other herb seedlings. Apart from crop farming, we are also farming with goats and sheep at our family farm, Tuxab East,” Brendell said.
Damases and Brendell shared their experiences with the group while learning from others.
During one of the sessions, Brendell introduced companion gardening, soil preparation and usage of herbs like lemongrass, basil, rosemary and borage. The fact that the participants could feel and taste the herbs enlightened awareness.
“My take-home message from the weekend was the information on pig farming. The weekend bred interest in pig farming, such that I made it my personal goal to do a bit more research and venture into it,” she said.
Thusnelde Timbo farms full-time at Springbokfontein Pos 1 near Tubusis (northwest of Usakos).
Timbo is engaged in goat, pig and layer chicken farming. In the future, she intends to also farm with sheep and crops.
During the sessions, she realized the importance of planning and investing in quality goats and sheep, expanding her crop farming, and moving her agriculture to the business level.
Retired educationalist Monica /Gawises said she learned a lot at the gathering.
“I grew up in Walvis Bay and was absolutely not interested in farming and left farming in my husband’s hands. This platform triggered my interest in farming, particularly crop farming,” she said.
The group was started through a WhatsApp platform by retired nurse Elizabeth Doeses and comprised around 50 female members from eight regions of Namibia.
The majority of the group members are upcoming farmers who still need guidance.
Their meeting identified challenges like high rent fees, stock theft, water problems, crowded communal areas and expensive land as stumbling blocks in their drive to feed the nation.