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November 23, 2011

New farmer thrives in Namibia

by Albertina Nakale

Michael Iyambo is a young emerging commercial farmer in Namibia who each week generates about N$138 000 from delivering watermelons to retail outlets like Pick ‘n Pay. Fruit and Veg Namibia Farmers Market and OK Foods are also in the stable of Iyambo’s growing clientele.

Iyambo, who previously worked at a local bank as a credit analyst, decided to make money through farming in horticulture. He now owns Oshikoto Fresh Fruit and Vegetables on Farm Concordia 876, some 70 km from Tsumeb, an established agricultural business that has been operating since 2005.

He grows cabbages, watermelons, butternuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, citrus, oranges, spinach, green peas, and eggplant.

The farm is 3 241 hectares but he farms on 30 hectares and also rears goats and some cattle.

Currently, watermelons are in season and his two trucks are on the road making deliveries around the clock to meet demand.

He says he invested N$10 million in the project from which he harvests 6 000 watermelons each week. A watermelon costs N$23 on average-raking in revenue of N$138 000.

This emerging commercial farmer has 2 000 citrus trees and his target is 10 000.

“I call my citrus my Old Mutual and Sanlam (life insurance) policies because I will harvest them later. In this business, you need to decide what you want to sell and how you want to sell it. If you grow a lot of vegetables, then you can make money,” he enthuses.

Iyambo has a staff complement of 45 seasonal and 15 permanent employees.

However, he said, his trees were affected by frost this year. He lost about N$700 000 in the process. He also faces the challenge of flocks of birds that devour his crop.

Every month, he harvests cabbages from a two-hectare piece of land. Currently, he has planted watermelons on a four-hectare plot and sweet potatoes on nine hectares.

He expects to harvest 65 000 watermelons at the end of this year.

Iyambo is in the process of de-bushing 60 ha to expand his farm

He is using two irrigation systems, the drip and micro-jet.

His business includes a seed nursery from which the seedlings of the various crops are initially nurtured and transplanted.

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