By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
As they say, one little thing leads to another. A visit to an in-law’s farm a few years ago seems to have launched Tjizembua Mbazuvara onto something.
Today he stands, arguably, before one of his biggest challenges in life when, in due course, he embarks on the training of fellow farmers in the Otjinene Constituency in the use of Draught Animal Power (DAP) through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Thanks to his in-law, he started seeing the light in cultivation, especially that animal husbandry goes hand in hand with the cultivation of land. What caught his eyes then were bars of a mixture of maize meal and beans in the warehouse on his in-law’s farm. These were used as fodder for the animals.
Since then Mbazuvara, now running and managing in this village on a smallholding known as Uprising, a mixed smallholding of predominantly cattle-rearing and a 4.5 hectare land for cultivation, has not looked back.
It all started with a forecourt piece of land before he shifted to the current location. Land here, darkish in colour, offers him a better option for cultivation because it holds water better than the initial land which he started cultivating. Besides being a constant source of food supply, Mbazuvara has seen the land he cultivates bringing change in his livelihood. In the recent suspension of auctions in the Omaheke Region, he was able to send his daughter back to school in Swakopmund with proceeds especially from selling beans. And his leaning towards cultivation seems to have positively rubbed on fellow villagers to the extent that the village can easily qualify for crown of the cultivation garden of the Otjinene Constituency, if not of the whole of the Omaheke region. He estimates that 20 of the 30 homesteads here now work their own land.
That briefly is how Mbazuvara came to be a would-be ambassador of the Drought Animal Power initiative of the Government. His land cultivating initiative through the Otjinene agricultural extension office, eventually caught the attention and interest of the ministry of agriculture, which snapped him to attend with others a two-week intensive training course in DAP technical crop production at Mashare in the Kavango region. There they were introduced to new cultivation methods, which differ from traditional methods in that it relies more on animal power. Crucially, while the tilling of land could take up to three weeks through the traditional method, with DAP it take only about three days. Not only that but any single maize cob, for instance, carries more yields through DAP. Tractors, which can be an expensive venture, and also damages the land, are also out with DAP.
Mbazuvara says it is imperative for people to engage in the production of their own food, especially given the current era where food prices are hitting the roof. He adds that in any one harvest some of the yields can be stored for a whole year so when one goes into the next season there is food. This provides food security. Some of it can also go into the making of animal fodder. Especially in this age when HIV/AIDS is taking a high toll on human resources, the use of draught power is the route, Mbazuvara advises with full conviction. Also when our homes are being swelled with infected members, producing own food can be much helpful.
Besides individuals who have become aware of his products, his favourite selling point is auctions in the Otjinene Constituency. But seems the word is quickly spreading around that Mbazuvara intends to add four more hectares of production to his land. The preparation calendar for the next planting season is already on the table starting especially with clearing the bushes.
There is no use to buy seeds as he can use the maize and beans from last year yield. This makes it less expensive with a 12.5 kg of seeds running into between N$70.80. Of course, all these preparations are done with one big hope and expectation, that of rain.
Meanwhile, Mbazuvara is all excitement regarding his new challenge of introducing fellow farmers to DAP. Not only that but strongly believes that once they have gone through the necessary training, and DAP is eventually officially introduced, there’s no stopping fellow farmers in working their lands and becoming sell-sufficient in food production, as well as having an alternative source of income to cattle rearing.