The recently held Ghanzi Show saw its poultry and rabbits category being dominated by one man being Kago Nthaga as he scooped literally all the awards that were on offer. Speaking to Farmer’s Magazine Botswana in the side-lines of the Ghanzi Show, Nthaga said that he started exhibiting in the Ghanzi show in 2015 and has since been scooping awards. According to Nthaga he has no challenge in Ghanzi as most farmers “fear” him adding that some even go to the extent of confirming with him first if he will be exhibiting or not and if he says yes then they will withdraw from their intention to exhibit something which he termed as unfair on his part.
He also added that it is not only in Ghanzi where he scoops awards but in most Agriculture shows in the Central district of the country as they are the main shows he exhibits in. He said that he always scoops champion awards. Meanwhile, relating his farming story to Farmer’s Magazine Botswana Nthaga said that his farming project officially started in 2010 when he came back from the UK where he got his inspiration from. He said that while in the UK his interest in starting poultry farming was sparked by a certain retired lecturer who kept Orpington chickens and immediately when he returned to Botswana in 2010 he bought buff Orpington, black Orpington, White Austrolop and mixed with Ornamentals especially peacocks and peahens, and turkey. In the same year he also started rabbit production.
Nthaga said that when he started farming he was first based in Mahalapye but later relocated to Ghanzi in 2015. Nthaga was strategic in buying his stock as he bought it from different breeders in South Africa in order to avoid inbreeding and to also improve the quality of his birds. He also keeps the quail bird.
Unlike most farmers who went for training first before venturing in their desired farming activity, Nthaga never did that. Nthaga’s character is an interesting one and he is an independent thinker and a calculated risk taker. He told Farmer’s Magazine Botswana that most of the times when he faces a challenge in his project he thinks through the challenge and manoeuvre ways in dealing with that challenge adding that he does not believe in failure.
Meanwhile Nthaga said that poultry demands someone who is available most of the times. He said it requires much observation because the chickens can trip the water troughs and spill the water hence the need for regular check-ups.
“The chickens can trip the water trough early in the morning and if you are only to check them in the evening it means that for the whole day the chickens will be without water and this may affect the production output,” said Nthaga.
According to him, it is not rocket science to produce high quality chickens or birds as all they demand is to be given proper food, timely vaccination especially against Newcastle disease and clean surroundings. He however stresses the importance of the farmer’s presence most of the time.
“Poultry requires lots of observation, you don’t feed them and check them in the evening, you have to check them during the day and also observe their behaviour like how much they are scratching themselves,” he said.
When asked about some of the major challenges he faces as a poultry farmer he said that the only big challenge he is faced with is that of his farm workers. He said that sometimes when you leave the farm they leave also and do not regularly check on the birds. He added that another challenge is that it seems as if poultry farmers are not highly recognized in Agriculture shows arguing that unlike livestock and small stock farmers who have good structures, poultry farmers have to bring their own cages and construct structures for themselves.
In other issues, Nthaga revealed that he is not only a poultry farmer but is also a cattle breeder. He keeps the Simmental and Brahman breed which he bought locally after being funded by the Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) last year (2016). He started with 100 cattle and his farm is in Bere in the Ghazi District. He said that from last year in June when he started up until now he has well over 130 cattle in total.
Thanks to his poultry project, Nthaga was able to solicit some Boer goats which he got through barter trading as some people traded them for chickens. He told Farmer’s Magazine Botswana that his intention is to expand from just focusing in poultry farming to being an integrated farmer arguing that it is not enough to sustain himself with just poultry. He said that his main challenge currently was land.FMB