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Tuesday, January 30 2018 | NEW ERA 15 ARMERS FORUM our weekly Agricultural Corner Tackling stock theft…Traditional leaders and members of the stock theft unit in the village of Otjijarua in Epukiro Constituency in Omaheke Region discussing the release of a stray cow to a claimant earlier this month. Despite the claimant having no conclusive evidence that the stray cow belonged to him, they released it to the claimant as none of the community leaders was prepared to take responsibility for the cow until the stock theft unit had concluded its investigation as to the rightful owner. Picture: Stock Theft Coetzee brothers open 2018 with mouthwatering auction Staff Reporter Windhoek The small-stock auction calendar for 2018 promises to start off with a bang with the annual sought-after production public sale by the Coetzee brothers, Zirk and Xico, next Monday at the Namboer pens in Windhoek. The auction normally attracts big numbers of communal, emerging as well as commercial farmers eager to start restocking their herds with some of the best genetics available. Guest sellers Christie Labuschagne, Francois van Rensburg, Dirk van der Merwe, Rhozetta Boerbok Stud and Louis van Schalkwyk will be offering top quality Boer Goats, Savannah, Kalahari Red, Van Rooy Damara Veldmasters and Dorpers as well as Persians. Breeders are expected from far and near to pay anything between N,000 and N,000 for immaculate Boer Goat rams of the two brothers. Close to 200 animals will come under the hammer and high average prices are expected. The two brothers told Farmers Forum that the correct selection for pairing of animals during the mating season is of vital importance in search of high quality genetics. They are always impressed with the enthusiasm of buyers which reflects the positive attitude of Namibian farmers even Top genes… Some of the prized animals of the Coetzee brothers coming under the hammer at the first small-stock auction of 2018 next Monday at the Namboer pens in Windhoek. in drought years. “We have a responsibility to guide prospective buyers and producers on their choice of ram and ewe material in order to increase production in their herds,” they note. Last year, the average price for Boer Goat rams was N,388. The most expensive Damara ram went for N,000 while a Van Rooy ram of Francois van Rensburg fetched N,000. Search on for Master Agronomist Staff Reporter Windhoek Despite unfavourable environmental conditions, excitement is building as the Namibian Agronomic Board started inviting entries for the 23 rd Master Agronomist for 2018 competition for the Maize Triangle, Summerdown, Hochfeld and Stampriet production areas on both irrigation and dry-land farms. The annual award goes to a farmer who is not necessarily evaluated on the size of his harvest but rather for an exceptional innovative scientific approach, good risk diversification, good labour relations and community involvement. The reigning champions are Ebbi Fischer and his wife Heidi of the farm Okongeama near Hochfeld. The Fischers started farming in 1993, initially starting part-time but taking on farming full-time in 2004. The Fischers cultivate crops under rain-fed (dry-land) conditions with maize rotated with legumes and feedsorghum. They also grow crops under irrigation with additional crop rotation between maize, legumes and oats. This crop rotation improves soil fertility and breaks the disease cycle for the crops. Their six-year average rainfed maize yield, including drought years, is 3.3 tons per hectare reaching a maximum of 5.4 tons per hectare at times. Their irrigation maize harvest average is 11.3 tons per hectare, at times a maximum of 12.4 tons per hectare. They also cut grass (hay) to the tune of 800 tons per year. The Fischers also farm extensively with cattle and are involved in a Brahman studbreeding programme. In addition to the Master Agronomist award, the Namibian Agronomic Board annually selects and awards the Zambezi Region Champion Maize Farmer and the Regional and National Mahangu Champion in two categories as well as the Mega Irrigation Master Producer and the National Horticulture Champion in three categories. Agronomy… A typical agronomic plantation on a Namibian farm. Namibia has started looking for this year’s Master Agronomist who will be announced later in the year. Photo: Contributed Harambee finds resonance among communal farmers Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro Windhoek The concept of Harambee, coined in the Namibian context by President Dr Hage Geingob when he assumed the reins of governance to encourage each and every one to join the struggle for economic reconstruction and development, seems to increasingly find reverberation in many socio-economic edifices of the country. The latest to embrace the concept, derived from a Kiswahili word meaning ‘all pulling together with purpose in one direction’, is the Harambee 2030 Vision, an initiative of long-time farmer, Albert Tjihero and others. The initiative stems from a series of meetings last year at the Namibia Primary School. It is meant to encourage and help beginner farmers to deal with the challenges of farming, especially cattle herding, which is the economic mainstay of many communal farmers and the backbone of their livelihood on which the farming communal communities have been relying mostly, if not solely, for subsistence and substance, against the backdrop of changing climatic conditions of late which have not been farming-friendly. The idea has been to encourage especially beginner farmers to lessen the burden of cattle farming by instilling in them better and optimal farming methods and skills. The initiative has been looking at the various challenges facing especially beginner farmers, such as whether communal farming from one kraal is sustainable and workable and whether taking early retirement to embark on farming is advisable in view of the changing climatic conditions which have posed farmers with various challenges. Opinions on the feasibility and practicality of communal farming from the same kraal have been as varied as the challenges that farming has been posing farmers, with some farmers testifying that it has been practicable while others testified to the challenges, albeit not insurmountable that they have been facing in such farming relations. As a result of the Harambee Vision 2030 farming initiative, farming saving clubs have been established, notable among them the Oututa Ondjamo (Farming is helpful) and Ovaute Farmers Initiative. While these savings clubs have a long way to go as yet in terms of their structures, some progress has been made with one having saved close to N0,000 since its establishment. Some of its members are Namibian citizens eking out a living in foreign countries like the United States of America (USA) and Canada. Another has already bought livestock with its savings that have been distributed among members.