Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland office
Located less than 20 kilometers from the town of Mutare, the little-known Sunny Valley has become a hive of agricultural activities.
Originally known as Madziro Farm, the vast expanse of land has been subdivided over the years into smaller plots of around two hectares where those who can afford it have purchased land.
Some of those who bought land in the peri-urban area just wanted to own a house in Mutare but due to the cumbersome process of accessing housing stalls, they had no choice but to opt for them. peripheral areas of the city.
But for others, it was an opportunity to get a small piece of land for farming activities.
For Mr. Henry Marapira, retiring from Zimbabwe’s prisons and corrections a few years ago left him some capital to buy the small piece of land where he could get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and live more. calmly. life.
But being inactive during the Covid-19 lockdown which has entered its third month, has seen him explore how he can use his 1.2 hectare plot.
In the past, he only grew corn for his family to have food, but this year he has a thriving harvest of 4,200 cabbages almost ready for the market.
Another 5,200 heads were also planted.
In addition to that, he has roaming hens, a small herd of goats and sheep as well as a small vegetable garden. He is doing well for a peri-urban farmer.
“We were very reluctant to start farming even though we had a drip irrigation system in place. Due to the national Covid-19 lockdown we had a lot of free time so we thought we could focus on the cabbage project and I think we’re doing fine. Our plot is very small but the good thing is that we have a lot of water, which is a very important element for agriculture, ”he said.
He said he planted the hybrid cabbage variety Fabiola which only needs 72 days to mature. The first harvest will be ready for the market in mid-July.
To reduce costs, Mr. Marapira hired the services of a horticultural expert who managed the project and will get a 25 percent share of the profits as compensation for his expertise.
“An important aspect of farming is expertise, but the problem we have as small farmers is that we don’t see farming as a business. But our economy is based on agriculture and it doesn’t matter whether the land you work on is big or small, you need to use it to the fullest for the best possible results. Because we work on a small scale, we could never have paid a salary for a manager, so the expert comes and does his best because he can share the profits with us, ”he said.
While most farmers have complained about the cost of electricity to power irrigation, Mr. Marapira has invested in two efficient solar systems that pump water from the borehole he drilled and from a stream. near. The solar system also supports all of their household energy needs.
According to him, solar is a one-time cost that is more sustainable in agriculture than electricity, especially for small-scale production.
“In the future, we want to make maximum use of this small land. We want to build a greenhouse and start a fish farming project.
“We also have a goat project that we want to develop, but due to the size of our land, we might be limited on the number of goats we will have. We are also aiming to increase the road chicken project. Last year we had a good harvest of corn, so we can produce our own feed, ”he said.
He said he started looking for markets for his cabbages to make sure that once the harvest is ready, it doesn’t stay in the field too long.
He said it was important for farmers to produce enough to feed their families, as this would push them to increase their production in the future.
The government has encouraged those who own the land to use it for food security and poverty eradication.
According to Vice President Chiwenga, the time to import food is over and everyone who owns land, even the smallest piece, should make it productive.
Speaking recently at the launch of the presidential heifer transmission program at Taguta Farm in Chipinge, Vice President Chiwenga said the government wanted to ensure that food production increased.
“We are not making full use of our water resources. We cannot continue to use the foreign exchange we get from exports to import food. The Covid-19 has affected all countries and it is no longer as usual. No country produces food for others, they are all worried about feeding their nationals after the end of this pandemic. If we do not grow our own food, we will face hunger and therefore we have to produce enough food for ourselves.
“Wherever there is water, we should have agricultural activities even if it is a small piece of land, it is enough to make a significant contribution. Once this is done, Zimbabwe will once again become a bread basket not only for the region but for the whole of Africa, ”he said.