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Iono - Behind the Bulletins

Using social media to aggressively market produce and livestock

By Sawi Hausiku:
 
Each year, Africa loses about N.dollars 53 billion in food waste due to poor storage facilities, market inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the value chain.
 
Ironically, despite millions of tonnes of food going to waste, Africa continues to be a net food importer, with the food import bill currently standing at N.dollars 464 billion. It is projected to hit a whopping US.dollars 110 billion (N.dollars 1 573 billion) in a decade, according to data from the African Development Bank.
 
The major problem in Africa is the timely transportation of produce to markets and storage.
 
The Namibia Census Agriculture Report of 2015 from the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry indicates producing households (farmers) predominantly suffered greater losses in Mahangu (pearl millet), about 24 437 tonnes of this crop in total.
 
Of that, a significant 22 824 tonnes were lost in the field meaning that the produce was not harvested because of a lack of adequate storage facilities, and 464 tonnes during storage, while 144 tonnes were lost during transportation and the rest in other ways.
 
Furthermore, agricultural households reported that a total of 3 154 tonnes of wheat was lost that year, with 3 143 tonnes lost in the field followed by eight tonnes during storage and the rest in other ways.
 
Sorghum was the third highest crop with a total loss of 2 019 tonnes, of which 1 983 tonnes were lost in the field and the rest in other ways, including transportation.
 
Maize recorded a total loss of 1 931 tonnes, of which an estimated 1 864 tonnes were lost in the field and the rest in other ways.
Marketing produce is another dilemma that confronts many farmers, especially in Africa, but some farmers in the United States of America (USA) are different in that they use social media to promote the sale of their produce and livestock. American farmers are advocating that Namibian farmers do the same to avoid losses and waste.
 
Jay Hill, a 32-year-old co-owner of the 405-hectare Wholesome Valley Farms in Las Cruces, Texas, said they work day and night to market their produce on social media.
 
Images of tractors harvesting onions and lettuce; workers sorting onions and others working in the watermelon field; as well as crates of onions stacked in barns are visible on Wholesome Valley Farms’ Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
 
Hill told Nampa journalists, who visited the USA in June on a media cooperative programme that Wholesome Valley Farms aims to inform potential consumers of the production process before the product reaches their dining table.
 
He encouraged Namibian farmers to market their produce on social media, as it holds massive benefits for both the farmer and consumer.
 
Hill said consumers want to have a connection with farmers, hence the importance the farm places on making everything they do transparent through social media.
 
“We also want them to understand why we apply pesticides and fertilisers and different additives to ensure we grow a nutritious crop,” he said.
 
Hill argued it makes sense to open up a dialogue using social media for consumers to engage the producers (farmers) and ask questions to be informed of what they eat.
 
This, he said, opened international doors for his farm and brought export opportunities.
 
“I know of farmers in Las Cruces who are unbelievable producers but they failed, simply because they are not able to market their crops,” Hill said.
 
Another farmer, Dan Macon who owns Flying Mule Farm - a small commercial sheep operation in the foothills near Auburn, Texas - said social media provides an opportunity for farmers to share information on their day-to-day challenges.
 
“Some of these challenges are universal no matter where you are trying to graze livestock and so social media has allowed us to educate people who do not have any background on what we do,” Macon said.
 
He said farmers in his area have embraced social media and established a Drought Farm Group on Facebook, which is being used by farmers all over the world to share information and make informed decisions when managing operations under a drought.
Macon said social media has enabled the American farmers to connect with others from different environments and share experiences to learn something.
 
“Those of us in other places who cannot connect with a farmer in Namibia who is not on social media, are disadvantaged because we are not getting that perspective,” he said.
 
Queried over Namibian farmers’ use of social media to market their crops, Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) Executive Director Mwilima Mushokobanji said the technology literacy and Internet access hampers farmers’ potential use of social media.
He said more than 70 per cent of the people who depend on agriculture for a living reside in remote areas where access to mobile networks for quality Internet is an issue.
 
“That on its own divorces the majority of the farmers from actually participating on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp,” he said.
 
However, Mushokobanji said about 20 per cent of farmers make use of social media to share information regarding operations on their farms.
 
One such farmer who ploughs 60 kilometres from Otavi at Farm Rimini 969, is former Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi who has demonstrated that social media has great marketing potential for farmers in Namibia.
 
Recently, Kamwi used Facebook to share pictures of 20 tonne trailers loading maize on his farm that was heading to the Agro-Marketing Trade Agency (AMTA) silos in Omuthiya.
 
He told this agency he receives several comments regarding posts on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, which to him is highly commendable.
 
Kamwi said since he shares such information on social media platforms, numerous potential customers have enquired about his products and how they can access them.
 
“Many also commended my efforts, saying Namibia can indeed be self-sufficient if all able bodied men and women were to put on their agriculture gear and go out there,” he said.
 
Kamwi noted that he also received comments from Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
 
Regional Manager of the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, Inekela Kambindjii told Nampa farmers, especially small-scale farmers, need to be educated and trained on the importance of production planning, which includes marketing and supply agreements.
 
A national database (crop calendar) needs to be developed by all stakeholders as a guiding tool to avoid over production, he said.
“Social media is an essential medium of communication and it will greatly benefit all stakeholders in this regard. Information can easily be shared through WhatsApp groups or Facebook,” he said.
 
Kambindjii observed that most farmers and traders can use social media to share information and address the problems of market saturation and food wastages.
 
(NAMPA)

BAN advises on avoiding financial potholes

Young people should make wise financial decisions early in life to ensure they are not impacted by financial missteps committed during their youth.
 
Baronice Hans, Chairperson of the Bankers Association of Namibia says: “There’s nothing as exciting as getting your first salary and realising that earning an income opens up many possibilities. However, this should also be the time to step back and start thinking carefully about your finances and what you want to achieve by earning an income. During this stage, every financial commitment should be carefully considered because how you start off will have a direct impact on your finances in the long term.”
 
“It’s quite common to see young people getting excited about earning money and then begin to take on too much debt to accumulate possessions they often don’t need, without having made provision for savings,” adds Hans.
 
Here are some of the common financial mistakes that young people must avoid:
 
Not budgeting
 
By creating a budget, you will be able to plan your expenses and keep an eye on what your money is spent on. A budget can help identify any wasteful spending because it’s designed to help you track your expenses and ultimately commit money to areas that take priority. Discipline is important but there’s no harm in making room for entertainment now and then to reward yourself for hard work later.
 
Taking too much debt
 
When you suddenly have access to credit, it may be difficult resisting the temptation to just spend, but remember that debt is a major financial commitment; therefore it’s better to take on debt that you can manage and not feel overburdened. By taking on too much debt you may find yourself not being able to cope with repayments. It’s better to focus on saving money and earning interest on it, instead of unnecessary debt.
 
Not having an emergency fund
 
An emergency fund is designed to cover shortfalls when an unexpected expense occurs. A medical emergency or a car breaking down can have a huge impact on your finances and if you don’t have funds for unplanned expenses you may end up relying on debt or having to tap into your other savings.
 
Delaying saving for retirement
 
The best time to start saving for retirement is when you are still young because any delay might cost you more in the long-term. While you might think there’s enough time to save for retirement, it’s always better to
 
save as soon as you start earning an income. Starting early will most likely help you make building blocks towards a comfortable retirement, ensuring that you benefit from compound interest and keeping in line with the depreciating value of money.
 
“The road to financial freedom comes with self-awareness and financial discipline. Equip yourself with as much information as possible before making any financial decisions, in this way you avoid making mistakes that can possibly compromise your finances in future,” concludes Hans.

Week in Review - 26 August 2017

Angola went to the polls this week in elections that marked the end of MPLA leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos' 38 year rule, as mostly expected the ruling party once again won the elections, however unlike in Kenya Angolan opposition party UNITA seemed to accept the result. According to election officials the MPLA won just over 64% of the vote which means that former Minister of Defence, Joao Lourenco, who was handpicked by dos Santos will be sworn in as the country's new president.
 
Locally Judge Christie Liebenberg continued his welcome trend of imposing heavy sentences when he sentenced Hendrik !Nowoseb to an effective 44 years in prison after he was found guilty of stabbing his former girlfriend to death inside the Outjo State Hospital. In better news for the country, it was announced that Gobabis is to get a larger shopping mall, bringing much needed investment and jobs to the eastern town, the Gross Barmen Resort announced that they had completed the first step in a plan to re-introduce wildlife with the addition of a herd of Springbok, and the Agricultural Bank of Namibia said that it is planning to offer free mentorship programmes to farmers.
 
Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe was still in the news this weekend as on Sunday it was revealed that she had been granted diplomatic immunity and allowed to leave South Africa, a decision the Minister of International Relations said in a letter to Parliamentary Speaker Baleke Mebete, prior to being called to explain herself to parliament, was a “painful decision to make”, Mbete in the meantime had troubles of her own as it was revealed that the ANC top brass were extremely upset with her for having ruled that the motion of no-confidence in Jacob Zuma could be conducted by secret ballot and expect her to explain herself.
 
Still in South Africa, it was revealed that more than half of the country's population is living in poverty, the world's first online auction of rhino horn began despite continued concern from wildlife and anti-trafficking organisations, there was good news for wool producers as suggestions were made that output could surge by about 50% on the back of a global shortage, and the country was gripped by the case of cannibals in Kwazulu-Natal who admitted to killing and eating people and also to supplying hundreds of people in the vicinity with human flesh.
 
Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari finally returned to the country and immediately began hitting out at calls for the succession of Biafra state, meanwhile staying in Nigeria the UN expressed concern over the fact that Boko Haram is increasingly making use of children as suicide bombers – pointing out that 83 children had been used as bombers so far in 2017, including a baby strapped to a young girl. 
 
Internationally the USA stood still and united once again this week as the country experienced the first full solar eclipse since 1918, albeit only for the up to 7 minutes 31 seconds it took to take place, India ruled against the controversial Muslim law of 'triple talaq' and also, in a seperate case, that the right to privacy is fundamental. Civilians continued to be killed by air-strikes in both Syria and Yemen, a magnitude 4 earthquake struck an Italian resort island, and at least 10 sailors were missing and presumed dead following a collision between a US war ship and a merchant vessel. Researchers also discovered a new 'garbage patch' in the South Pacific.
 
And finally in some good news, Novartis are testing a new antimalarial medicine to tackle drug-resistant strains, over 2000 animals from South Africa and Swaziland have been moved to a Mozambique park, and Qatar approved a new law protecting domestic workers.