Meet the Emerging Farmer: Munya Shamuyarira

Thursday, October 29, 2015

This week’s Emerging Famer is Munya Shamunyarira. Munya is an urban farmer and the founder of Marcus Produce, a horticulture company. Emerging Farmer spoke to him about what inspired his farming journey, working with creatives for branding and using available resources.

How and why did your farming journey begin?

Munya: I've always had a passion for farming. My journey started way back as a kid. My grandfather used to farm in Zvimba. So during the holidays we would visit their place to help out. At the end of the holidays, we would get some money for our efforts, so this cultivated a degree of appreciation for farming on my part.

Do you have a farming background?

: Over the years I realised that farming was my thing so I studied Agriculture in high school and immediately after Form Four I did a certificate in Agriculture followed by a degree in Agriculture.

Can you tell us more about your company?

Munya: My company is a registered a private business corporation trading under Marcus Produce. This is a means of establishing a brand and taking a step to formalise operations. The design for the brand was done by a designer friend of mine, Tapiwa Masuka, who is the founder and head designer of Project 10 Design Studio.

How to Start a Farm: Planning Your Farm

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

     "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my axe." ~ Abraham Lincoln

     Planning your farm will help you get started, and define where you will end up. So you've decided you want to farm {congratulations!}.--but what do you grow? What are the conditions you have to work with (such as soil/ location/ water) and what resources are you are able to invest?

#1. Do your Homework

Attend farmer workshops, conferences and visit the market to see what is in demand and the prices. Keep a notebook to track your findings. Read our farmer profiles and upcoming Emerging Farmer guides and resources for inspiration. The Zimbabwe Farmers Union and University of Zimbabwe host a number of  farmer workshops. Talk with established farmers in your area, they will usually have plenty of experience. You should really consider working on someone else's farm for a season or two. You will gain valuable skills and experience. Nothing prepares you better to farm than experience does.

#2. Draft a plan and set farm goals

Goal setting is important in every aspect of farming.  Since farming is a business, it needs a vision and plan on how to attain that vision. In most parts of Africa, you'll only have 2-3 months (winter) to plan for the next growing season. Set up a plan for your target income and from there work backwards. To do this, you should do your market research to find out which crops the market needs and at what price you can produce them versus the average price on the market. This will help you work out your expected profit per year. Growing food requires good timing and attention to detail.

Meet the Emerging Farmer: Gracious Makoti

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mrs. Gracious Makoti of plot 56 Alabama in Kadoma talks with Emerging Farmer contributor Gugu Nyazema. She shares how she transformed a piece of land that had nothing on it into a fully-productive farm and also built a beautiful home. She is a mother of four and has worked very closely with her husband in the process.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?

Well, my husband and I are both former nurses. My husband was a nurse more solid for the army. Together we have four children, two boys, and two girls. The first boy is currently completing his degree in agriculture at a local university. He is very interested in helping out the family as well as starting his own thing on the side.  My second daughter is married, making me a grandmother, (she smiles). The third born is a girl and she is a cadet in the army and my last son is currently in Form Three.

4 Common Misconceptions Young People Make about Farming

Monday, October 19, 2015

I often hear and read about the challenges of attracting young people to farming because young people are currently not interested in agriculture. What I've realized is that most young people think that  a career in agriculture simply involves long days labouring in the hot sun. Yes, it is hot right now! But what they fail to realize, however, is that agriculture is an industry with an entire spectrum of possibilities.

Some of the common words I often hear thrown out about farming, even from some of my friends and peers, are:

“boring, lack of social life, poverty, and retirement career.”

 I find these to be myths, and would like to address them:

1. Farming is boring

There are so many things to do on a productive farm that “boring” would not be a word used to describe them.

There is also a lot of technologies that young people can adopt that can make farming not only interesting but also profitable. Some examples include using  soil moisture sensors for smart irrigation to reduce water waste, using software for tracking farm data for better decision making and tracking agriculture information using your phone, whether it's smart or not.

As a young farmer, I can tell you that I do my seedlings on our farm using less water, less money and fewer hours in the hot sun simply because I choose to use the float try system versus the more labor intensive traditional methods.

There is also the serenity and calmness of farm life. As a child, I remember going treasure hunting on the farm and my mum having to look for me and my siblings to come back into the house for lunch or once it got dark. For teenagers, farm life is great because it is fun to have friends over and have a braai (barbeque) by the dam and watch the sunset over the water. There’s a lot of space to practice driving without the fear of running over someone or crashing into an expensive car. And now as a young adult, the farm is the perfect place to be away from all the loud noises of city life, the fresh air is relaxing and I now appreciate why my own parents saw it as an ideal environment to raise a family.

Meet the Emerging Farmer: Dominic Machingura

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Meet Emerging Farmer...Dominic Machingura. Dominic is an urban farmer growing vegetables for local supermarkets on his family's urban plot in Belvedere, Harare. Prior to October 2014, Dominic had absolutely no previous experience farming or even gardening. His turning point was attending a Zimbabwe Farmers' Union event where he was inspired by other young farmers to get involved. With a little bit of capital from his family, he started farming.
How did your farming journey start?  Do you come from an agricultural background?
My farming journey started last year on the 14th October 2014 after attending the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union ZYA Summit. I don’t come from an agricultural background,in fact, I am studying accounting and grew up wanting to be a musician.

Running a Farm: How to Access Water for Farming

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We never know the worth of the water until the well is dry. -THOMAS FULLER

When I was 12 years old, I wrote a letter to the Director of Coca-Cola Bulawayo asking for a donation to my school fundraiser. We were fundraising to help build the Zambezi pipeline to improve water supply to drought-prone Bulawayo. Coca-Cola agreed to send us a truck full of coke!

Unfortunately, more than two decades later that pipeline still hasn't been built, and Matabeleland still faces major water shortages.

Energy, water and food are closely linked. Water is needed to extract energy and generate power; energy is needed to treat, distill and transport water; and both water and energy are needed to grow food. Agriculture consumes approximately 70% of world water supplies.

This year Zambia and Zimbabwe are facing a major drought with diminishing water supplies and frequent, long-lasting power outages. Last year's unpredictable and extreme weather patterns had a negative impact on available food supplies. This year's El Nino is forecast to be severe and likely to cause suppressed rain throughout the region. Farmers, therefore, need to explore ways to access water and use their available water resources more efficiently.

So with water on our minds, let's explore 7 alternative and sustainable ways to access water for farming:

#1. Solar Powered Water Pumps
Solar Pump-Sun Culture

Composting 101: The Beginner's Guide to Making Compost

Friday, October 9, 2015

On the farm we tend to remove plants as they are harvested, so the soil is gradually impoverished. Composting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways that we've found for adding nutrients, amending the soil texture and improving the drainage of our soil. 

Good compost can maintain soil fertility for up to 5 years. This is especially helpful if you live in an area like ours with sandy soils that do not retain moisture. We will be discussing soils soon, so stay tuned for that. Adding compost to your soils will greatly improve yields and is the way to go if you want to go into organic farming.

Go ahead and gather all the materials below to get started composting and make a 1.5m wide by 1.5m height and any length compost pile. The compost must never be too high because the weight will limit the flow of air. The pile must be turned when the temperature reaches 600C. (Turning is the process of moving the pile from one location to the next by breaking it up and mixing all the ingredients). 

Alice in Vendaland

This is the woman that’s helping to push agriculture produce in the Harare city center. Alice represents the new face of vendors that is helping many farmers stay afloat. She lives in Epworth and makes her way to our farm in Ruwa every morning. I like profiling people it puts a human element to them and helps in addressing the needs of the customer. With Alice, is a vendor in her late 20s or maybe early 30s, she wants fresh quality produce early in the morning so that she can get to her stall and set it up before her customers come into the city.

 At 5:15 am I hear her shouting through my window:

Meet the Emerging Farmer: Yvonne Kazingizi

Thursday, October 8, 2015

This week’s emerging farmer is Yvonne Kazingizi. Yvonne is the co-founder and Finance Director of Hortech Limited, a startup horticulture company. Her goal? Build a leading horticulture company and a green future. Emerging Farmer talked to her about getting started, her farming vision and her business team.

Let’s start from the beginning: Where did your farming journey begin?

Yvonne: My farming journey started when I was working at Pedstock Investments {a farm supply and service company} as a sale representative.

It started with a conversation during lunch with my friend, and co-worker Rumbidzai Mbambo. She wanted to venture into farming but didn't have enough resources to get started and I was in a similar position. I had this strong desire to venture into farming, influenced by the company I was working for.

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