If one could get at least one piece of useful farming advice from some of Botswana’s leading farmers what could that be?
Over time Farmer’s Magazine Botswana has featured a number of award winning farmers and their secrets to farming success. We thought it interesting to revisit what some of these farmers’ say is the secret to their success.
Track the animal’s performance record
For the Ghanzi based Simmental cattle breeder, Hendrick Dikampe success in farming begins by using an animal’s performance record as a guide to buying.
“The real secret to my success is that I track the animal’s performance record before buying it. This enables me to buy the right breed a thing which many farmers ignore. This is the most important secret to my success as a stud breeder. Besides loving your job I also urge farmers out there to take farming professionally,” says Dikampe.
Lack of capital is not an excuse
According to Boteti based small stock farmer, Rex Mothobi the lack of capital is not a good reason why one should not expand their business.
“I never had a loan from the government or need one because I never had problems with capital,’ stated the award winning small stock farmer who started off with twenty goats now has well over four hundred.
“I do not see any reason for anyone to fail to expand because of the lack of capital when you have stock that you can sell off to buy medicine and quality feeds. There is definitely no reason why some of your stock should die or suffer when you have others that can finance their well being. It is amazing how many farmers lose their stock because of the failure to do this,” says Mothobi.
Mothobi believes that selling off some of your stock to finance the sustenance of others will not only keep the farmer out of debt but will help produce quality and more profitable breeds in the long run using the proceeds from sales.
It’s all about team work.
For Ghanzi Show’s 2014 grand champion of the yard winner, Johan Venter farming is no longer a business he now calls it a lifestyle. Venter who runs the farm with his wife in Kuke believes it is all about team work.
“My wife Manda, the workers and their families have the same goals. There is a consultation with the workers in the direction we should take the farm. For us it is about the farm, animals and workers that belong to God. We are blessed with good workers, a good farm and animals,” he says.
Breed productive cattle and adopt modern farming technologies
“Winning at the shows is important, but it’s a lot more important to breed cattle which are more productive,” is another Ghanzi based farmer, Rudie Lemcke’s advice. He adds that you can only breed productive cattle if the infrastructure is a productive one.
“In the olden days you could easily survive by the saving route but in the modern era where farming is very expensive you have to utilise every hectare properly and understand the grazing conditions in your area and adopt modern farming technologies.”
Lemcke developed all farms into 300 hectare paddocks with a four paddock system, where the stocking rate is 100 cattle per system. The cattle are rotated every two weeks at the peak of the rainy season to utilise all the soft grass and thereafter the cattle are rotated every 2 months per paddock for the remaining season. Lemcke and family have also invested heavily in debushing, camp houses and infrastructural facilities to achieve their cattle breeding goals.
Also like Venter, Lemcke believes the future of the farmer lies in the understanding of his or her greatest asset, the workforce.
“It is important to identify a few role players in your workforce whom you can train accordingly since you cannot do everything by yourself. It is also important to appreciate the welfare of your workforce because only then can you expect them to be productive.”
Good management, the true secret to success
As a young farmer, last year’s award winning small stock breeder, Henne Schutte believes that passion and good management are the true secrets to success in small stock farming. So particular is Schutte about good management that he has gone to the extent of taking courses in small sock breeding.
“The reason I have attended business courses is to empower myself because farming today is different from the way it was 20 or 30 years ago, we cannot continue using old methods because at the end of the day you have to make money from what you are doing or else you can’t eat,” says Schutte. FMB