City Farmers ‘Brainstorm’

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK A group of interested part-time farmers who have businesses and demanding jobs in town last year came together to share information on how they could improve their livestock operations. Together with an educator and an experienced livestock farmer, they planned the farming activities within the complexities of their professional and business responsibilities and their family dynamics. The group started with 16 people and grew to 26. They participated in different activities including exchange visits to farms or communal areas where they farm and hold formal training courses. These activities have generated interest in a number of colleagues, family members and friends of the part-time farmers that there is need for a second group. Wiebke Volkmann, one of the facilitators and trainers, told New Era yesterday people were enthusiastic about the programme, noting that it offers an opportunity to think about the advice people get from veterinarians and breeders and how it affects one’s income, social dynamics and the environment. The second intake stems from an interest that people have shown in attending a course that gives more comprehensive introduction to holistic management and how it can be applied for profitable farming and other enterprises – in one’s household and personal life, and in land restoration. The first seminar offers the background to holistic management and how it can help toÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ make livestock farming profitable, improve the land to keep your livestock, wildlife and all other forms of life healthy, figure out how best to combine professional work in town with part-time farming (in the ‘communal areas’ or on your own farm), to get satisfaction and the best possible quality of life for the whole family and also to get the greatest return possible from investing your hard-earned money into livestock. The other topics include investigating different enterprises, improving the cooperation between members of your family or businesses, finding creative solutions to special challenges, and reducing risks while doing all the above. ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚  The first course, according to Volkmann, is a precondition to participate in all the other courses that have been planned for 2007. These include bookkeeping, financial literacy and non-financial people, effective communication and organizing in groups, livestock production, and grazing and infrastructure planning, among others. Volkmann said last year’s activities were very successful in that a flexible programme emerged which included formal training courses, exposure visits and ongoing support activities while marriage and business partners participated together. Several meetings, she said, showed that people would group together to learn from and with each other for many years to come. Apart from this programme, people have the opportunity to hear each other’s personal histories and establish relationships with people of other cultural backgrounds. The programme is also calling for people that want to become mentors and lead a bigger group in all their learning to contact the organizers. “Mentors would participate in all training and other activities and would eventually lead part of the bigger group in all training and support activities,” said Volkmann. Ultimately, the aim is to match mentors and participants who either live or farm in the same region or who share specific interests. An addition, a programme is being planned where facilitators – Volkmann, Colin Nott and the convener Usiel Kandjii – will support group leaders with special mentoring skills to make their role effective. Before they become mentors though, Volkmann said people should first join the learning programmes and decide later if they want to become a mentor. The first learning session starts on February 2 at Penduka centre and interested people should contact Kandjii at 081 284 0426 or Volkmann at 081 127 0081.