Gold is in Dirt: A tale of toil, sweat and passion for a young Zim farmer

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By Josiah Mucharowana and Masara Taruberekera in Pretoria.

Gold is in dirt!

This rings true for Zimbabwean Ashirai Mawere Mutirikwi (33) of Chipinge, Manicaland Province.
The land reform program is widely portrayed as an economic disaster,but in Mawere’s case its a remarkable success.

Driven by passion,Mawere industrious, young and energetic, took on diverse farming ventures including crocodile farming, epiculture, piggery, timber plantation, poultry, macadamia nuts, dog and rabbit breeding to eke out a living in the face of biting economic hardships prevailing in the country.

Many youths, he says choose to sit on their laurels, moan and wail about high unemployment levels yet in most instances, their salvation is within their environs.

“My passion for humanitarian and public health work got me into farming. I was raised in a family with a long history of farming”, he says.
” My late great grandfather, Mr Mukombe was involved in dairy and tea farming around the Mt Selinda area in Chipinge. I have a passion for farming and now have since really transformed this into a high paying venture”, Mawere says beaming with confidence.

The young farmer runs a timber plantation with vibrant and lush Gumtree on over 12 hectres.

“This is my own small way to participate in the timber business. Already with this the current woodlot i have over 15, 3 cubics of transmission and light poles” he says

The Bees(epiculture)

For the his epicurean skills, Mawere looks to the future with confidence:
“I have epiculture with close to a hundred and twenty Langstroth hives ready for setup in the timber plantation soon after the forthcoming rain season”, he says
” Honey is so much on demand. I look to the future and would like to produce more than 1000l of pure honey per annum’, Mawere says.

Boars and Soars

Not to be outdone is the piggery side where he spends time scrubbing dirty floors for his brood.

” 1 have piggery doing so well right now despite the challenges with prices in stockfeeds. I have breeding stock of 42 large white soars and 4 duroc soars. We are phasing the out our boars as we look to artificial insemination as the ultimate solution to our breeding.” Pork Business is ever good, he says.

Recently, 25 butcheries in Harare had their operating licenses revoked on allegations they used banned elbaming chemicals in meat products to prolong shelf life owing to a nationwide erratic power supply to run refrigeration and chilling units. Hundreds of businesspeople were also arrested for selling uninspected meat in a nationwide blitz on the meat industry.

In most instances, formalin, a carcinogenic preservative commonly used in mortuaries was found.
The scenario, Mawere says has put him in good stead as this has poised him for an increased clientele base.

But inbreeding and feeding for piggery are critical.
” I am growing breeding stock to 160 soars, ” he says.
Investment in relevant information and skills training is paramount to developmwnt of Agriculture Mawere added.

” I salute the Pig Industry Board and Jubilee Pig Farm for their research materials, good pig breeding and training programs” he says.

The ambitious young farmer is also looking at seting up a a biogas unit from the piggery and poultry waste to generate power for heating, lighting and plumbing water.

Dog section

” I have a small dog breeding and training section with German Shepperd and other local breeds available. I want to turn this into a very strategic unit for many homeowners and businesses demanding a good dog and training.. We dont just train the dog, we also train the people to love and understand these beautiful animals,” he says.

Croc Farm

This side of the farming empire is set to be the second biggest venture with tentacles spreading as far as neighbouring South Africa.

” We havehave established a very promising foundation for crocodile farming. With nearly 1000 crocodiles waiting to be moved from rented facilities to the farm once we finish on the tabs. This will be the second most critical unit at the farm after piggery, ” Mawere says.

A loving husband and visionary father for his son , he established the crocodile branch for his two year- old son Ndiriyo-Rindayi Rain Mawere that when he turns 30, the business would have flourished 16 tonnes of crocodile hide under his trademark currently being registered with CIPC in South Africa by attorney Ignatious Mahlokwane.

The trademark he say comes with a clothing apparel called Kanyi.

Mawere says all his ventures are made possible by a staff complement of eight on full salary.

He intends to make the farming
ventures world class by getting recognition from tertiary institutions of learning offering industrial internships for agricultural learners

” We have started working towards establishing facilities towards offering a learning environment for students on industrial attachments and of course trainings and workshops for youths, war veterans and women, ” he says.

The nuts

Some in toto, 12 hectares have since been prepared for macadamia nuts planting.
There is a high in macadamia nuts across the world, as such we are just tapping on for a score.

The nursey is available and flourishing with surplus for the prepared land.

“For spraying and field monitoring I am looking at procuring a drone by mid next year. Due to my previous private military experience i know that these technologies work wonders. Iam looking at Dji AGRAS mg-1 drone technology. They even have a new type, T20 version modified It is a beast i tell you,” the techno-savvy farmer says

He added he would depend more on the great advise and support from friends at Skyblicke Investments Pvt Limited, the Drone Consulting Group.Demand for macadamia is growing in major markets of the world, which presents export opportunities for local producers.
According to Trade Map, the global export market for macadamia was worth US$843 million in 2018.

The major importers of macadamia last year were China, United States of America and Vietnam while the biggest exporters of the crop were South Africa, Australia and Kenya.

According to Zimtrade, the global demand for macadamia nuts is expected to grow significantly, driven by changes in consumption patterns, including rising demand for alternative sources of protein that substitutes for meat.

Zimbabwe could benefit from this rise in demand if more producers come on board.

Currently, exports are low after the country exported macadamia nuts worth US$15 million, mainly to South Africa and China.

Ranting and raving

Nonetheless, Mawere had this to say to other upcoming young farming entrepreneurs the world over.
“My advise to any agroprenuer out there is simple’
Farming is not a hobby and one cannot do it over the phone. This is like a man made evolution. It has all the worst risks and teaches patience’ he says.

The agile and exuberant farmer also takes his farming business seriously.
He says biosecurity is critical when dealings with animals.
” Dont allow all everyone to just walk about your project, touch and feed your animals. No! This is not some political rally. There are biological threats that come when other animals and humans meet. And it costs money to treat”, he says

In addition, he lauded the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement in Harare especially the new Minister Perrance Shiri and Permanent Secretary for boosting morale and immensely giving confidence to the farming community in the country.

In particular he noted the establishment of a youth desk at the ministry coordinated by a seasoned farmer Ms Memory Chakwita aka Kamoto.

” It is a great thing for the youth in agriculture. She has done so much for me and many alike. Although resources limit some of her efforts.” he says.

In the Chipinge area, he lamented the biggest challenge around the success of agriculture is the manipulation of government resources by land officials. Single handedly, he says some have costed this country millions in possible revenue and productivity.
” There is a lot of bureaucracy and for as long as it remains, the country will suffer’ he says.
“Banana, macadamia nuts, coffee and animal husbandry continue to be very successful ventures regardless,” Mawere says.

As a parting shot he says Zimbabweans and any would-be farmers anyhwere in the world should realise one hectare of land is not simply a plot but a serious farm demanding all the energy, time and financial investment.

“As a country, we cannot be in the business of celebrating land hoarding. I speak productivity”, he says.

While the world has been fed stereotypes of abject failure the roaring success of this young agriprenuer can testify that the universally held view is misleading.
Judging by the work of his hands there is a vast potential in agriculture.
Mawere is a Seattle university trained chartered marketer.

Josiah Mucharowana and Taruberekera Masara are Zimbabwean trained journalists living in Pretoria

Feedback: joemasvokisi@gmail.com,masarataru1@gmail.com+27 84 587 4121\±27619969062