From street vendor to award-winning farmer

Vegetable and livestock farmer Paulus Amutenya started as a street vendor selling apples and tomatoes in the streets of Oshakati and Outapi.

24 February 2021 | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



Agribank’s multiple loan beneficiary and former chairperson of the Olushandja Farmers Association, Paulus Amutenya, is a well-established horticulture and livestock farmer whose business journey started in the streets of Oshakati and Outapi as a street vendor selling apples and tomatoes.

At the beginning of 2003, while selling tomatoes in Outapi, Amutenya met a customer who encouraged him to engage in a gardening business.

However, since he did not have any crop production skills, Amutenya pondered the idea for several months.

“After a few months from the day I met that customer, two thoughts came into my mind: not having the skills or forging ahead and just trying. So, I motivated myself that if others could do it, it was possible that I could also do it,” Amutenya says.

According to Agribank, he then approached a local farmer in the area of Olushandja, in the Omusati Region, who sold him a piece of land near a water point, where he set up a small tomato garden.

“When I set up the garden, my focus was not really to make money and in fact, I did not have money when I started. The only money I had from my apple business was used in buying land and tomato seeds.”

Start small

He advises prospective farmers not to go into farming with a mindset of making money, but to start small and grow.

After weeks of trying to grow tomatoes and failing, Amutenya decided to visit the Etunda Green Scheme irrigation project, where he met and shared his gardening experience with the project’s crop production manager, who then guided and coached him on various aspects of growing crops.

“When I just started applying what I was taught at Etunda, something surprising happened in my garden. I saw how my tomatoes were growing faster and healthier to the extent that they later produced big and fresh tomatoes, which enabled me to make good money when I took them to the market.”

After a few harvests from his garden, he approached Agribank through the Oshakati Regional Branch for financial support.

Go big

With Agribank’s financial support and the income from his initial harvests, he managed to buy two pumps, a tractor, drip irrigation pipes and extra land.

He then started to grow various crops ranging from maize to tomatoes, onions, carrots, butternuts and cabbages on a larger scale.

In 2017, he won Namibia’s best large-scale horticulture producer of the year award by the Namibia Agronomic Board.

Amutenya says after settling Agribank’s first loan, he again approached the bank, and bought a commercial farm in the area of Grootfontein where he now successfully farms with cattle and goats.

Amutenya says the main challenges he now faces are the lack of a market for his produce and outbreaks of pests that are destroying his crops.

He appeals to the government to find a formal market for local farmers and further urges government ministries and agencies to start buying from them.

Amuntenya 15 has permanent employees and at harvest time he employs up to 80 casual workers.

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