A 24-year-old University of Namibia graduate has called on other educated youths to follow her lead and become fulltime farmers.

Hilja Nangombe Amvula, a young female and a visionary full-time farmer, grabbed an opportunity to venture into piggery farming when she failed to secure employment after her graduation in 2017.

Amvula holds an Honours Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science from the University of Namibia (Unam) and she is currently pursuing her Masters in the same field.

According to Amvula, after months of searching for employment opportunities, she met her former lecturer, who introduced her to a female local farmer in the area of Okondjatu, in the Otjozondjupa region, where she started producing and selling different types of feed for animals.

“That is how I entered the farming industry,” the youthful farmer said.

“I started producing feed and I turned professional in producing feed for all sorts of animals and throughout my journey with her, I also got an opportunity to meet a lot of people in the industry and learn from them,” she explained.

In 2019, she was awarded an innovative business woman of the year award at a women business conference held in Windhoek. With her prize money, she bought five piglets and a local farmer sponsored her with another 5 piglets to establish her piggery business at her mother’s homestead at the Omaku village in Tsandi Constituency, Omusati region.

As the business grew, she acquired a bigger piece of land, 2 km from the T-junction of Iitananga-Omakange road, where she is currently farming with pigs and grows yellow maize and sunflowers to compliment her pigs’ feed and to cut on the costs of feed.

“Last year we sold our first stock of 52 pigs, which were just sold to informal markets because the demand was very high. These days, I receive a lot of requests to start supplying pigs and we look forward to start supplying bigger markets such as the Amarika Cooperative butchery in Okahao and companies like African Meat Market,” she enthused.

Although she has been always passionate about farming, she needed some expert advice to thrive in her farming business. Amvula therefore appreciates Agribank’s assistance through its agri-advisory services as well as the mentorship, guidance and support to successfully grow her farming business.

“The interventions of Agribank have been always helpful. You know, as a startup farmer, I always attended Agribank trainings and lectures that really opened my eyes on different farming aspects and agribusiness investment opportunities.

“Agribank’s mentor for the northern regions, Pendukeni Hamunyela, visits my farm regularly. I am excited by the introduction of the women and youth loan scheme by Agribank as I intend to apply under this scheme, and grow my business,” she said.

According to Amvula, some of the challenges she faces is the lack of water in her area, high cost of feeds as well as finances to support her daily farming operations. She has two employees and in future, plans to create internship opportunities to students in the field of agriculture. She thus urges young people who have ideas of venturing into farming, not to allow the lack of land or start-up capital to prevent them from living their dreams.

“Everyone knows that land is an issue in this country, so youth do not limit yourself because you don’t have land registered under your name, but you can lease from someone. Start with what you have, approach people, be patient as farming requires time, and if you are a graduate be willing to leave your degree as a paper behind.

“In agriculture there is no degree as a paper, there is only a degree as a practical experience, meaning you apply what you were taught at school,” she concluded.

In the photo: 24-year-old Hilja Nangombe Amvula proudly looking at some of her pigs.