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Posted 01/06/2021 in Agricuture

Being a young farmer in Zimbabwe : Part 2

Being a young farmer in Zimbabwe : Part 2

The first nationwide lockdown saw many people, youths among them stuck at home with little or no productivity. As a consequence, many took to their backyards and started improving their vegetable beds and even expanding. For some, they took the fields. I caught up with Ndabenhle Ncube aka Ndaba( NN) and we managed to share quite a lot of inspiring life experiences. What i really admired from him is his perseverance and his spirit of never giving up. Like several other stories i have come across, he has faced a lot of challenges but with him, they have but been a learning curve for him. Here is how our conversation went.

 RK: Can you tell us about you(age, gender)

 NN: I'm a 33 year old born male and raised in Bulawayo. I've lived in this city all my life and look forward to one day seeing true development take place here.


RK: Can you share your story

 NN: I've always desired to own a business and have explored many different opportunities, from the chihuta craze to social media management for small businesses. All of which have moulded my style of business today.

 RK: What motivated you to start farming?

 NN: I got into farming because I always wanted to be in a business  that will outlast me. My dad was also a small scale cattle rancher and trips to the rural home subtly trained my pallet for the food/agriculture industry. 

 RK: How has been your experience?

NN: The farming journey has been one of the unending lessons. In 2019 January I decided to grow tomatoes in my rural home of Gwanda. I did this because this was the only land I had access to. Armed with 1000 seedlings (rodade variety), compound C and some pesticides, my business partner and I tool to the fields of Mat South. We relied on a community borehole for water, which is situated about 30m away from my homestead.  Things started out well, but after about 3 weeks the borehole ran dry and we now we're faced with a water challenge. We then decided to hire a cart and two donkeys every second day to fetch 400litres of water from the nearby dam which is about 3km away. We made our drip system using 500ml plastic bottles placed upside down by each plant with a tiny hole on the lid.  Unfortunately, we didn't yield a great harvest and only managed to harvest 5x20litre buckets. It's a lesson that motivated me. If I could harvest tomatoes in dry Mat South with little water, then I can definitely pursue farming. 

RK: Which region are you in?

NN: We are farming in Mat South region, in rural Gwanda and Kezi.

RK: What challenges have you faced?

NN: Capital has been a challenge. Most banks require collateral which as a start-up we don't have. 

RK: Has age been a hindrance? If so how?

NN: I wouldn't say age has really been a hindrance, however, we were disappointed when we failed to access a loan from the Empowerment Bank which required collateral. Surely such a bank should know most youth who need empowerment in business lack the collateral. 

RK: Where do you see your farming business in 5 years? 

NN: We hope to have grown the brand (Vuna Frssh) locally and regionally, through value-added produce. It's also our desire to have moved our operation onto a bigger piece of land.

RK: If you were put in a room with the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, what would you tell him?

NN: I would first congratulate him a job well done thus far and then go on to tell him, we need more government-supported initiatives that are similar to Pfumvudza but focused more on horticulture products that we can produce on a large scale and export.  Look at how Brazil has become successful with Chickens and how Isreal has turned a desert into a garden. Farmers need extensive government support from inputs all the way to markets. I would also encourage more interaction with youth and financial packages that equip the young farmer.e.g hold regional conferences and workshops so young farmers can learn and network with experienced farmers. 

RK: What would you like say to other young people out there?

NN: Joshua Nkomo once said "Ma ufuna imali phednulela ibala elithi mali libe ngulima", which means "if you want money, reverse the name money to read as farm " (it obviously makes more sense in Ndebele). Rima something!  We will never over produce food!

RK: Closing words? 

NN: I hope young farmers can interact and network with each other more. This will help structure our farming businesses better i.e access to markets, access to equipment,  cooperatives, and much more. Zimbabwe won't go hungry, the young farmers will save it!

For those who may want to follow him, he has tomatoes, spinach and okra available now. Check him out on Twitter(@NdabaSpeaks)

By Ryan Katayi

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