Taking up farming as a profession has rarely captured the imaginations of upwardly mobile young people whose dreams and search for opportunities takes them to mostly white-collar professions, mainly in cities. I had an opportunity to sit and talk to one farmer whom his passion for farming was derived from as long as he can remember. He went to the cattle post almost every Friday from childhood to assist the parents to take care of the farm/moraka. Isaac Ratlale decided his passion for farming will become his top priority in life and his profession.
Born and bred in a Setswana setting Isaac owns moraka at Kamochuxinee cattlepost, in Boteti. He has cattle which he was given by his parents as he grew up and goats which is his main priority, which he obtained through the Youth Development Fund (YDF) programme. Because he couldn’t secure a job he went full force into small stock farming mainly focusing on meat goats. Also it was a way of nurturing his passion for farming.
He stays at the farm full time and he has employed one farm assistant to help him take care of his 57 goats. On a daily basis they wake up early morning to prepare for the day. They observe the animals in the morning before they are released into the grazing lands. The animals are accompanied by the farm assistant who directs them to the grazing areas. When they come back they are observed again and directed into the kraals.
His goats graze in a communal land and he also provides creep feed for them when they are in the kraal. With the small amount of knowledge about the vegetation that his meat goats browse on he also supplement feeding for his meat goats. He buys the feed from Voorslag farmer’s supplies and Agrivet in Letlhakane
Mr Isaac went ahead to explain that he has a vaccination schedule that he uses that he learnt from a week course which he attended to increase his knowledge about small stock management and care. He follows the schedule but he always enquire through means of a veterinarian, social media, reading books, browsing the net for answers and advices and of course with the skill he developed from the parents and working at the farm. His challenge is that the vaccines that he prefers to use he accesses them from Gaborone, which means he has to travel more than 600km to buy them.
He has a recording system which he learnt to do from his week course. He records vaccination dates, birth dates and financial records which include equipment and human resource. He records this on a monthly basis since this is also a requirement to the programme.
His advice to young farmers
“I would advise small stock farmers to adopt modern farming methods as they have better output and also to treat farming as other business in order to gain profits from sales of their products. Farmers should also take care of their stock through vaccinations, proper feeding, cutting over grown hoofs and dip for external parasites. I would also advice to adopt or use technology by computerizing their records especially young farmers as they have skills.”
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