At times, one wishes to interrupt the morphology of the old term ‘agriculture’ to ‘agribusiness’ to meet current demands. Thereafter, we can perhaps attempt to draw a line between livestock keeping and actual farming for commercial purposes. The idea is to transform from traditional farming for non-commercial purposes to commercial farming.
In this piece, we will attempt to shed some lights on a few things we, as a country, should change to get into the commercial space of agribusiness, referred to as ‘lucrative markets’.
Agriculture has been practised as a culture for decades and by many; it was not for commercial purposes but rather for survival. Things have changed; agriculture proved to be the backbone of many economies. Whether unfortunate or fortunate, we have to get rid of the ‘culture’ in agriculture and replace it with ‘business’ (to agribusiness) if we want to see change in the sector.
This should not only be an issue of morphology but rather a change in attitude and various approaches we take as we engage the sector. Various institutions, including those leading the sector – Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Land Reform and Agricultural Bank of Namibia – are implementing various programs meant to assist in the transitioning referred to above.
Here are a few things we need to change from traditional farming to commercial farming:
Where possible (availability of water sources), turning seasonal mahangu/maize fields into cash crop production (horticulture). For livestock keeping, giving supplements every season, keeping records of individual animals, controlled mating, and timely vaccination are some of the things one has to adhere to. In the 21st century, marketing has become an essential service in increasing sales volumes of products. As a commercial farmer, one must do market research, depending on the products you are producing and establish things such as demand patterns of the product, prices and possible competition. Farmers can become suppliers of much-needed inputs in their localities; some of the inputs they can supply include inputs such as seeds, herbicides, pesticides, irrigation systems and vaccines. Traditionally, farmers would produce without paying much attention to some of the above-mentioned factors – hence the lack of growth.
As highlighted earlier, agribusiness has the potential not only to eradicate poverty but also to rapidly growing economies. These will all manifest if we continue assisting traditional farmers to move to commercially oriented agribusiness. – Sai Sai Hanks and Jona Musheko are active practitioners in the agriculture sector. This contribution is, however, in their private capacities and does not necessarily reflect the views of their employers.