Mutete jam, Mutete Juice, dried cabbage and Monkey Orange Schnapps, are some products one can buy from Mutengo Farm. The kind of unique produce that is not yet on the shelves of your local grocery store. Started on a small piece of land close to the Kavango River in 2017, the farm now boasts having a range of product and services which include growing, drying and bottling a range of fruits and vegetables, and giving free training to local farmers.
Mutengo Farming is the brainchild of Naas Coetzee, assisted by his wife Jenny Coetzee, both retired from the corporate world and decided to dip their fingers in farming. And which place better than next to the evergreen Kavango River Banks?
“Both my husband and I grew up on farms around Grootfontein Area. March 2017 we came to Mutengo, debushed the area and we started with fruit & vegetables. It was a lifelong dream to have our own little piece of land.” Jenny told Biashara News.
The farm is on a 9-hectare piece of land, of which 5 hectares are used for growing fruit and vegetables. Some of the crops include tomatoes (mainly), papaya, cabbage, mutate and strawberries. The couple is also starting farming with Tilapia fish.
“We are also planning a training facility here, in the near future, where upcoming farmers can be trained by us to add value to their crops, sell items and by doing that, ensure an income for themselves.We travel to various towns where we give training which is totally free for trainees, together with GIZ – in all aspects of Value Addition, fruit tree grafting, honeybee farming, as well as fish farming.”
The Coetzees have already trained a few groups of local farmers at their farm as well as at other farms. All the courses are free of charge. The farm is run with the help of a staff of four workers. From time to time, people from the Mutengo community are roped in for work.
Mutengo Farming is in Mutengo Village, which is about 7 kilometres northwest of Nkurenkuru, Kavango West. Not only does the farm help to contribute to the livelihoods of the villagers by employing and training them, but villagers are also occasionally treated to free tomato harvesting days where they are allowed to harvest as many tomatoes as they want for free.
“We want to better the lives of the people of our Mutengo area, but because of financial difficulties, it is a very slow process. If in a few years, when our training facility is up & running, I would like to produce jams, juices etc. enough to supply shops all over Namibia. That is my aim, my dream.”
Currently, Mutengo Farming sells their produce from their farm, in Rundu and Ovamboland. They also courier all over Namibia, some of their products go as far as Europe.
Due to the pandemic, many people have gotten a rude awakening on skyrocketing food prices, as most industries are under the strain of meeting production demands with limitations imposed on gatherings and so on. Nations are left with little choice when it comes to food production and security. Namibia has more foreign brands on the shelf than local, although there are initiatives encouraging locals to buy and produce local products
“If we can bottle all our produce and train people to also preserve and bottle, we can make Namibia a country with its local items on the shop shelves. I am very positive about that, it is very possible.”
At the moment, Mutengo Farming is working on getting their solar system up to standard, which is quite a challenge.
What is in store for Mutengo Farming for the near future?
“We aim to get everything up to standard – especially my dream to have a training kitchen here where I can train people. Especially the young people. I feel that it is my absolute duty to pass on my knowledge to our young people. Everyone is allowed to visit us anytime during the weekdays for advice, we are here to help with every aspect.”
Food security is a big deal the world over. Feel free to visit Mutengo Farming (or their Facebook page) for a wide range of your lekker locally produced goodies, or for advice on how to best tend to your crops.