Women take centre stage in agric sector

Precious Manomano-Features Reporter

Over the past few decades, women have taken centre stage in farming and are now sustaining their families and communities through farming. 

Zimbabwe, recently, joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day, and here we return to some of the women we had reported on in the past — women in the agriculture sector that deserve special mention for their resilience.

Despite the challenges many farmers have faced, many women are now taking agriculture seriously and are doing very well. 

Commercial farmer Mrs Sithabile Dube, whose farm is 15km south of Marondera, was resettled on 45 hectares and has been producing tonnes of maize and sugar beans. 

At her farm, Mrs Dube constructed a modern house and drilled six boreholes and a compound which accommodates her six workers. Apart from her modern house, she is in the process of building a farm office. 

“I want to run this farm professionally and we have already registered a horticultural company,” said Mrs Dube. 

The total arable hectarage has been used fully since 2019, with 15ha under maize, 2ha under sugar beans and 1ha under horticultural produce. 

Mrs Dube used proceeds from the farm to buy an electric transformer and built a water reservoir with a capacity of 15 000 litres. She intends to make use of nearby streams to harvest water for winter cropping, particularly for wheat and horticulture production. 

Another Marondera farmer, Mrs Olga Mubai of Pondorosa Farm, is another resilient farmer.

The 76-year-old horticulture farmer was nominated second runner-up in the category of horticulture at Marondera district agriculture show last year.

Mrs Mubai walked away with a wheelbarrow, knapsack sprayer and cash. 

She said this was her fifth time to win at the district level and she was now eyeing to be nominated at provincial level. 

“Hopefully my products will win at the provincial agriculture show,” she said. “I would like to thank the Government for allowing us to showcase our products; in this way it motivates some out there.”

Mrs Mubai said what men can do, women can do even better. 

Ms Ordripha Zishiri won the pacesetters of the year award in tobacco farming for 2022.

She was the best female farmer and tobacco producer of the year. 

Ms Zishiri highlighted that the recognition of women through such events would assist attracting women into agriculture production, as this was a testament of how women can be productive at national level. 

Seed Co head of agronomy Ms Wendy Madzura and extension worker Ms Wadzanayi Manyore won the Federation of Young Farmers Clubs of Zimbabwe Media Agro-personality award of the year 2022 in recognition of their contribution to agriculture.

A 56-year-old Marondera farmer Mrs Angelbetta Madzingira, a beneficiary of the Government’s land reform is one of the thousands of farmers reaping the rewards of taking a leap of faith and venturing into agriculture. 

Her Warwick Farm, located along the Marondera to Murehwa road, is among the most productive farms in Mashonaland East. Over the years, she has invested heavily in crop and livestock production, as well as horticulture.

She is now recognised as a commercial farmer. 

Mrs Rosemary Marerwa of sub division plot 5, Bounce Green farm in Mazoe has a thriving 25ha farm which has been more lucrative than the job she held for more than 10 years. 

“Women should venture into farming as a business because it pays well and allows them to sustain their families. In 2002 I realised that I was better off leaving my job in Harare to take up farming full time and I have not regretted it. I can take care of my family and also assist orphans in the community by paying school fees for them and it is satisfying to be able to do that using proceeds from farming,” she said. 

Ms Talia Matutu who was a maid in South Africa decided to return and venture into farming.

She was inspired by her late father who was an Agritex officer. 

Matutu left her job as a maid in South Africa to venture into a successful horticulture business at her plot in Rangemore in Umguza District. 

Ms Matutu worked in South Africa as a house maid from 2003 until 2009 when she decided to return home to venture into farming. 

Since venturing into full-time farming a few years ago, Ms Matutu has never looked back as her horticulture is paying dividends. She specialises in growing tomatoes, garlic, cabbages, vegetables and butternuts

She represents a crop of female farmers who are defining the success story of farming, thereby contributing significantly to food security for the nation, while also earning a decent living, as they continue to rise fast to levels unparalleled by their male counterparts. 

One of her children has since completed her studies at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) through her mother’s farming business. Ms Matutu has also inspired her children to venture into agriculture-related business. Her youngest daughter, a water resources engineering student at the Bulawayo Polytechnic, is following in her footsteps. 

Ms Matutu said she harvests after every three months and supplies local supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets in Bulawayo and individuals. 

“I inherited this piece of land from my late parents and since I started venturing into full-time farming a few years ago, I have not looked back. I grow tomatoes, garlic, cabbages, vegetables and butternuts, which I then take to the local market,” said Ms Matutu. “I grew up in a family that literally ate, drank and dreamt farming and that is precisely how I developed the interest in farming. I am actually following in my father’s footsteps and he is the one who inspired me. By virtue of having been an Agritex officer, my father loved farming so much.”

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