Guest Contributor | Nov 14, 2022 | 0
From a street vendor to an award winning farmer
Agribank’s multiple loan beneficiary and former Chairperson of the Olushandja Farmers Association Paulus Amutenya is a well-established horticulture and livestock farmer whose business journey started in the streets of Oshakati and Outapi as a street vendor selling apples and tomatoes.
At the beginning of 2003, while selling his tomatoes in Outapi, he met a customer who encouraged him to engage in a gardening business. However, since he did not have any crop production skills, he pondered on the idea for several months. “After a few months from the day I met that customer, two thoughts came into my mind not having the skills or forging ahead just trying . So, I motivated myself that if others could do it, it was possible that I could also do it,” Amutenya narrated.
He then approached a local farmer in the area of Olushandja, in the Omusati region, who sold him a piece of land near the water point, where he set up a small tomato garden. “When I set up the garden, my focus was not really to make money and in fact, I did not have money when I started. The only money I had from my apple business was used in buying land and the tomato seeds. All I had was passion for work and to produce. My advice to anyone who wants to engage in farming will be not to go into farming with a mindset of making money, you will fail. The first thing to ask yourself, is the work involved. Start small and grow as you learn,” Amutenya advised.
He explained that after weeks of trying to grow tomatoes and failing, he took a decision to visit the Etunda Irrigation Green Scheme Project, where he met and shared his gardening experience with the project’s Crop Production Manager, who then guided and coached him on various aspects of growing crops.
“When I just started applying what I was taught at Etunda, something surprising happened in my garden. I saw how my tomatoes were growing faster and healthy to an extent that they later produced big and fresh tomatoes, that enabled me to make good money when I took them to the market,” he said.
After a few harvests from his garden, he approached Agribank through the Oshakati Regional Branch for financial support. According to him, with Agribank’s financial support and the income from his initial harvests, he managed to buy two pumping machines, a tractor, enough drip pipes, extra land, and began to grow various crops ranging from maize, tomatoes, onions, carrots, butternuts as well as cabbages on a larger scale.
In 2017, he won Namibia’s best large-scale horticulture producer of the year award by the Namibia Agronomic Board.
“I just used to hear about Agribank, I didn’t really know about their support. One day I decided to visit Oshakati Branch, I explained all my needs to the Branch manager who was very friendly and even explained to me all the application procedures in my own language. So, I am proud to say that I am still a happy client of Agribank,” he enthused.
Amutenya explained that after settling Agribank’s first loan, he again approached the Bank, and bought a commercial farm in the area of Grootfontein where he now successfully farms with livestock, both cattle and goats.
Asked about challenges, Amutenya said the challenges he is currently faced with as a farmer is the lack of market to sell his produce as well as the outbreak of pests that are destroying his crops. He thus urged government to find a formal market for local producers and further urged, government ministries and agencies to start buying from them.
Amuntenya employs 15 workers on a permanent basis and during harvesting times, he employs up to 80 people as casual workers.