We talked to Kudakwashe and Felistas Gumbanjera, a husband and wife team farming in Kadoma. They are also the owners of Pilstone Trading and Mornington Lodge and Guesthouses. On their farm they grow horticultural produce such lettuce, green peppers, green beans, peas, cucumbers and/or carrots, depending on the season, for local supermarkets and the fresh market. We learned how they share tasks, manage their days and deal with market challenges. Let's meet them.
How did you get started farming? What were you doing before you got started farming?
Kudakwashe Gumbanjera: I will start by answering what we were doing before venturing into farming. I am an hotelier by profession and my wife is an accountant by profession. We have always been into home gardening, since time in memorial. During those days, we were growing carrots and green beans.
So one day my wife and I decided we had enough vegetables to sell to our neighbours. As time went by we discovered we had quality vegetables to sell to the hotel, I was working, Kadoma Ranch.
After a few good investments, we decided to buy a plot in Eiffel Blue. This is when we started doing things on a bigger scale. Since then we have managed to stop working and go into farming and also venture into the hotel business.
Do you have a team and how do you delegate tasks?
Felistas Gumbanjera: Well thank God that our former professions allowed us to assume different roles that complement each another. My husband is hands on and usually does the actual farming with the workers. I am the debt collector and, unfortunately, this department takes an army. However, our youngest daughter helps from time to time. But on the ground, we have three men besides my husband who are in charge of preparing orders, harvesting and packing and making deliveries.
What are some of the challenges you have faced farming and how did you handle them?
Felistas: The challenges we face are that big customers like your TM, OK and Spar supermarkets, take a long time to pay up while this doesn’t stop them from placing new orders for more produce. That is the main challenge. How do we handle it? Well, we have tried to look for cash up front customers, and these are usually people you find at the local markets (musikas). This helps keep us afloat for the time being.
Do you have any training in agriculture and has it helped you in farming?
Kudakwashe: The only qualification we have is passion.
Can you tell us about your typical work day?
Kudakwashe: I am up at 5 am to prepare the local supermarkets orders, this takes about 7 am. By 7:15 am we have started deliveries we are done by 8:30 am; luckily Kadoma is a small town. So by 9:00 am the delivery stage of the day is over. We proceed to the plot where we do the day to day tasks. Afterwards, I go to the lodge to help out my wife.
Felistas: Unlike my husband the last time I woke up that early was when I was at work. So my day starts slightly later at 6:30 am. I go for morning mass then I go to the lodges to do the lodge books and the farm books as well follow up on payments while I supervise the day to day running of the business.
What are some of the lessons you have learnt farming?
Kudakwashe: The proverb-You reap, what you sow. Is so true!!! For you to succeed you need to put in the hours.
What advice would you give other emerging farmers?
Kudakwashe: Perseverance and consistency pays. Always strive to improve yourself and those you work with. As a farmer, you must be able to teach and learn all at the same time.
What are your farming aspirations?
We want to move into other towns and supply neighbouring towns like Kwekwe and Gweru, maybe even take our produce to Bulawayo.
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