Serowe — One of the renowned farmers in Serowe area, Mr Kelebemang Tebelelo has advised farmers not to solely rely on farm herdboys, but to rather make sure that they are always available to attend to all that is needed at the farm.
In an interview, Mr Tebelelo, affectionately known in the village as "Radinonyane," and who hails from Sebina ward, said it was about time farmers took full responsibility for their farms, considering the fact that it is now expensive to maintain farm essentials, including medicine, even the livestock itself.
"The cost of maintaining a farm is just too high, we need to shift from making farming a hobby but instead commercialise it. The country is reliant on us to provide food for our people, an aspect which we can take advantage of," he said.
Mr Tebelelo was quick to point out that the demand for meat was high, adding that the quantity produced was far less than the current demand.
"I have realised at a later stage of my life that farming could bear fruitful rewards, with prospects for self-reliance. When we grew up, we were raised with the mentality that we had to find work in order to make a decent living," he said.
For Mr Tebelelo, who is in his early 50s, it is through the hardships of life after working for more than 22 years without a decent living that he then landed into farming, adding that now there was no turning back, as he was now able to put food on the table.
Having begun in 2004 with only a duck, which brought excellent returns, then later venturing into rearing black Orpington, "Radinonyane" can proudly advice more to venture into farming.
He said he ventured into farming without seeking any financial assistance from the government, adding that his secret was to start small and expand using the proceeds from the farm.
"I now have most types of birds and well known across the country because of the quality that I produce. I also breed dogs ranging from Boer Boels, Great Dane, Jack Russel and anatolian dogs.
Through the proceeds I now have a goat farm where I breed cross Tswana goat with pure Boer goat," he said.
Mr Tebelelo said he only faced challenges of baboons from the nearby hills at his farm in Mmangwedi, only seven kilometres from Serowe.
"I have had baboons killing some of my goats and chickens, but this can never in any way deter me from farming, considering the benefits. The situation is not really under control as I have anatolian dogs guarding my goats," he said.
He also noted that there were other challenges which include the usual ones such as diseases, adding that now he was knowledgable as compared to when he started.
"When I started I used to face a lot of challenges, but now through experience I have learnt to overcome such. I make sure that I reduce that outbreak of diseases in my farm through regular vaccinations and deworming," he said.
Mr Tebelelo adviced youth interested in venturing into farming to also consider getting some form of training to avoid misfortune.
He said although he has not gone through any formal training, he had gone through it the hard way as he only learnt through experience.
"It is important to study for such, I do not keep records, but I know that it is difficult to know if I am making profit or not. Farmers need to know how much they spend on animals per month," he said.
He however advised that farmers should develop the habit of recording from the onset, as it could give one an idea on how much they could sell their animal, noting that it was an area which most farmers took for granted.
Although he is not the man of books, "my advice to the youth as the future of our nation is for them to consider goat rearing as it was one project which could bring satisfaction in terms of earning a living and bringing joy to them if done well.
I can remember the happiness that I felt when I began nine years ago. Goat rearing is serious business which one can invest in to make returns," he said.
Source : BOPA