This week's Emerging Farmer is Lovemore Nyakazela, also known as the "crop adviser". Lovemore's day job is working as a consultant agronomist for EDDA Seeds, a seed potato producer. In his spare time, he farms on a rented plot in Banket where he grows potatoes and maize. Let's talk to him.
Can you tell us a bit about your farming business?
I currently work for a company called EDDA SEEDS as an agronomist helping with all agronomy related work for the company's clients. The company farms on a 45 ha. farm in Doma where we grow mainly table potatoes. We have a team of 10 permanent workers and a qualified farm supervisor on the farm. He does the delegation of work. We hire some extra staff if there is more work to do especially during planting and harvesting periods.
Currently, I manage the farm operations. In my own capacity. I currently don't have a farm of my own. However, I rent a small plot in Banket area, where I grow table potatoes and maize.
How did you get started farming? What were you doing before you got started farming?
Well, I was born and raised on a farm in Raffingora where my father worked as a farm worker at Chinomwe Estates, that’s how I got started at a young age working in the fields during the school holidays. In 2001 soon after completing my O’Levels, I was employed in Ruwa as a Farm Manager. In 2003, I stopped working to pave the way for my studies in Agriculture. In 2006, I was then employed as farm manager by a white commercial farmer before joining Edda Seeds in 2011 to date.
Has your agricultural education helped you with your farming business?
I have a certificate and a diploma in Agriculture, I am now working on a degree in Agronomy. The qualifications have helped me a lot, I am now utilizing my experience to the fullest.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered farming and how did you handle them?
I have faced many challenges in farming and my career in Agriculture. Coming from a poor background, it was not easy for me to go to a formal college for my agriculture qualifications. I completed my certificate in Agriculture course by correspondence while working and paying for it.
The challenge with farming right now is that our production costs are so exorbitantly priced, making a profit is not easy. If you don’t look and manage your operations well in Zimbabwe, the chances of making a loss are very high. The solution on my side is to produce as much as we can in a given area so that if prices are low we can capitalize on quantity.
Can you tell us how you start and organize your day?
My day is full of activities, I do farm field visits for our clients at least one farmer per day. When I am in the office, I have farmers coming in for advice, also responding to farmers questions about their crops on email and telephone, moving with time, I have 5 farmers Whatsapp groups which provide agricultural advice, hence the name Crop Adviser.
What are some of the lessons you have learned farming?
I learned a lot from farming. Farming is a business. It needs all the skills at hand to keep you going. To new and seasoned farmers: never take advantage of your relatives for monitoring your farms. You will get a short term advantage but long-term disadvantages. This is unless he or she is qualified for the job and is not taking advantage of the relationship. On labour, don’t only pay them well, let them work to compensate the business, that’s the solution to keeping your business going.
Thank you, Lovemore.
Thank you for reading.
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