Farmers study Swakara sheep at forum

09 Mar 2015 10:10am
GELLAP OST, 09 MAR (NAMPA) – The third Governor’s Farmers Day was held at Gellap Ost Research Station outside Keetmanshoop on Friday and Saturday, where over 800 farmers received expert lectures on a wide range of topics.
The event was hosted by its patron, outgoing //Karas Governor Bernadus Swartbooi, and co-founder Minnie /Uiseb, a communal farmer from the Erongo Region.
The large group of farmers, majority from resettlement and communal farms in the Kunene and Erongo Regions were sensitised particularly on Swakara sheep; a breed only found in southern Namibia.
According to Swartbooi, this breed – formerly known as Karakul – was actively farmed in the western regions in the 1970s.
“The Swakara was declared by Government as a strategic activity. It is the first time for some of these visiting farmers to see this animal and we hope it can be re-introduced in Erongo and Kunene,” Swartbooi said.
He said the aim of the farmer’s day was to assist Government in connecting people and creating synergies for collective growth.
The two men, Governor Swartbooi and patron /Uiseb, established the initiative last year to create a forum of exchange for upcoming farmers to elevate their standards of farming and to increase its commercial viability. Talks included topics such as grazing, animal health, optimised breeding, marketing, game farming and trophy hunting.
Swartbooi added that the inherited genetic backlog in livestock had to be bridged faster and that the bi-annual farmers’ gathering provided one such opportunity for enhanced learning.
/Uiseb said the positive results of the initiative so far were the acquisition of quality rams by farmers and the introduction of new bloodlines in their stock.
He said the farmers were also becoming much more animal health-conscious and have started to sell their animals directly to the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) and not just to individuals.
The event was sponsored by the //Karas Governor’s Office, other entities in the agriculture industry, and the attending farmers.
The lectures were complemented by practical sessions, a mini-auction, a networking session and cultural activities. Most of the farmers camped in tents on the farm for the weekend.
Gellap Ost is a Government-owned agriculture research farm situated a few kilometres east of Keetmanshoop.