Otjijamangombe: the saviour of cattle

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Windhoek

The success story of farm Otjijamangombe – the Place that Saves Cattle – unfolded last week when Usiel Kandjii, Vevangaije Kandjii and Tyson Katjizai from the farm in the Otjizondupa region explained the meaning of Otjijama-ngombe.

Presenting the story of the farm at last week’s 19th Rangeland Forum in Otjiwarongo, they explained the name as follows: Otji –prefix, Jama –save, help or assist, Ngombe –cattle. The farm is an extension of the Otjiseu clan’s farming enterprises that was known to be wealthy in cattle and people as per traditional songs and dances sung about the Otjiseu cattle.

They explained that in 1896 large herds were migrated to Botswana, others were lost in the 1904 –1908 German/Ovaherero war. In 1994 a stock count was done at Ozongaru, Otjomunguindi and Ehungiro for the first time. In 2001, the 6 532 hectares in communal area, 60 kilometres from Okondjatu village (Otjozondjupa) obtained grazing rights in a semi-fenced around the borders.

There was only one water point by 2001, now the farm boasts three waterpoints. Altogether, there are 28 livestock owners with 330 cattle, and 100 goats/sheep on the farm. Some 95 percent of the soil on the farm is sandy soils with hilly sand dunes. Water to the farm is supplied via NamWater Rural Water Scheme and the water connection is eight kilometres away from Otjijamangombe.

Vision and goals for Otjijamangombe include the expansion of the existing communal farming operation and to convert communal farming methods into commercial orientated farming. The farmers also strive to be exemplary in terms of management of the existing farming operations and beyond. Their aim is to be a united, independent, extended family, producing high quality livestock and products. They aim at bulk marketing of livestock, once or twice a year, sell weaner(s), oxen and culling cows at public auctions or to Meatco. The revenue is used for operational, capital expenses, cash pay out to owners and investment.

Otjijamangombe stock sale record shows that figures jumped from 2002 from 19 to 50 this year, earning more than N$50 000, compared to earnings of N$35 000 in 2002. In total, farmers have sold 292 cattle at an average unit price of N$958. Cattle on the farm are predominately Ngunis, as the farmers seek to farm with well adapted animals. They also aim to restore the social/culture value of the clan and do selective dehorning of cattle (male only except lobola and lead animals).

“We support biodiversity,” they say. Herding trials commenced in 2007 to identify herd effect on soil and plants and they identified the weak-link: water distribution. Herding exercises were conducted since 2013 at a temporarily kraal in the rangeland.

Crop planting is also done on the farm and the farm is fast moving towards being self- sustainable due to conservation agriculture. They help other farmers in crop planting and other farming operations financially. They have taught them how to manage to build the stock steadily and erect infrastructures. Their buy-in has improved, and they keep losses low with a motto to maintain and manage. “The success story of Otjijamangombe will continue,” the presenters concluded.

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