This article is a thread from Twitter written by @aameML with the hashtag #agricultureiscool on the 4th of April 2018.
So agriculture is the backbone of our economy. How? Well, because it feeds us. A hungry country is an angry country. Also, If children are hungry, they won’t stay in school. Namibia as we all know is a net importer of food. This simply means that, we can’t produce enough to feed 2.4 million people. Local production of horticulture is at 42%; meaning 58% of domestics horticulture consumption is imported. That also means, there is an opportunity to produce that 58% from the domestic market. And that’s the opportunity for the agri-preneur. Fun fact: Namibia’s local production of horticulture was at 2% in 1992. Over the 26 years, we have managed to bring it to 42%.
The agriculture sector in Namibia is divided into the commercial and communal sector. The 42% local production is coming mainly from the commercial sector including government green schemes. The communal sector’s contribution to the agriculture stats is negligible. In other African countries, the agriculture sector is primarily driven by small scale farmers mainly also based in communal areas. They are organized in cooperatives and that’s how they achieve economies of scale to supply the market.
What is also interesting if you visit countries like Ghana, Uganda, Kenya etc, small scale farmers are selling their produce at informal markets. The freshest bananas in Africa are sold by women on the street of Accra. In Osu street to be specific. In Namibia however, we are more conditioned to buy the potatoes from Shoprite, pick n pay etc.We are slowing embracing the street produce vendor. This is the only way to support small scale farmers and to also create a market for them. Most times they only have 7 days to sell.
The commercial sector is only 40% while the communal is 60%. So if we unlock the 60% even to bring 25% to the commercial side, it will have an impact on our national agriculture production and food security as a whole. So how can you start? My thing is, let’s MOVE out of the city. Seriously guys, no one will produce for us if we don’t go and do agriculture in the regions. I’m seeing a wave of young professionals from other African countries leaving their accountant, lawyer, economist jobs to start agribusiness.
I know it’s hard because we’re married to this 8 to 5 and we can hardly survive already. But for those who have had enough of this concrete jungle and thinking of retiring early in the village, here’s what you can do. Write a letter of interest to your town/village council. Tell them your interest of starting an agriculture project and hence you’re apply for Agricultural land. Please note: it’s is by law that every town/village council has provision for agricultural land. That’s what you’re applying for.
Present your business plan and how you plan to make an impact. Now because you also don’t have money to start, propose a partnership with the town council. Tell them you’ll employ locals, train them and bring services to the area. Be persistent and convincing. For the business plan: visit Agronomic board for stats. Check which produce are best selling and which are probably scare in the market. This will help you find the market gap. Also, find out what type of crops is suitable to that area. Soil type, water availability etc.
For those who can afford financing, visit Agribank. They give non-collateral loans to professionals. Start with a minimum of NAD 150 k to NAD 250 k. Depending on your hectare and inputs you need.Now that you have acquired the land, the money and definitely the workers, it’s time to produce. So after production, what are the opportunities? These are market access opportunities which involve, marketing, supply contracts, distribution etc. add technology as well. Market access component is actually crucial because it plays a big role in access to financing.
1. Potential is in Agriculture
2. Apply for agricultural land in your village council (start home). You can also start on your grandparents land.
3. Identity what you want to produce and do extensive research on it.
4. Understand the market structure. Supply chain
5. Employ fellow professionals for the different skills. Accountants, lawyers, economist, designers, distributors etc.
6. Supply your community, informal market and upscale as you go.
7. Be brave and do it