Namibia. Africa. When someone says these words to you, what do you think? Wild animals, tribes, game hunting? What if I told you the words that come to my mind are livestock, farming and agriculture? Namibia, a country located in southern Africa, while much different from the United States, has many pluralistic aspects as well.
When it comes to agriculture, the United States and Namibia have much more in common than one would think. Both have extension programs focused on helping farmers increase their productivity. They both have communal and commercial farming. Both countries have skeptics of Genetically Modified Organisms and how they affect humans when consumed. Also, both countries produce market beef cattle.
Edmond, the farm operations manager at the University of Namibia – Neudamm (UNAM), informed me of many similarities within Namibia and the United States. One topic I found interesting was the cattle operation on their farm. The farm is made up of 10,000 hectares (24,000 acres) and rotational grazing is used. In America, the average farm is 434 acres; in Texas, it is 523 acres. The Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profile of Namibia states that in 2002 Namibia had about 2.5 million cattle total. It also states that beef cattle production is the most important livestock commodity and that the majority of the meat produced is exported to Europe.
In Texas, all cattle that are in a seed stock production or going to be exhibited at stock shows must be registered through the specific breed registry. In Namibia, every single animal, not just cattle, must be registered into a national recording program called NamLITS. According to the NamLITS website this identification and traceability system is used to manage disease and verify the meat quality. To sell cattle you must also show a pedigree explaining the lineage of that specific animal. Just like the United States, Namibia has a livestock show for farmers to present their best livestock. At the stock show, farmers can buy better stock to upgrade their farm and utilize the time to share ideas and skills with each other. This happens every year in late September. Similarly, in the United States there are three national stock shows each year in the winter season.
At the UNAM farm there are a couple different breeds of cattle including Afrikaner, a small framed breed, Simmental, a large framed breed, and Holstein used for milk production. The breed that is most prominent in Namibia is Brahman. This breed has the highest adaptability to harsh weather conditions. Adapting to these conditions is important in Namibia due to the little rainfall and high temperatures. The most prominent breed of cattle in the Unites States is Angus, used primarily for beef production.
How incredibly eye-opening it is to see that Namibia is much like Texas and the United States? Each culture has a unique outlook on life and the way of doing things. Yet, when you focus on the similarities it’s easy to see that we are all people, trying to do the same exact thing… feed our families.