This is understandable, considering Zimbabwe’s history of farming. During the colonial area, the majority of farmers were confined to unyielding patches of land in the Tribal Trust Lands and told to use their fields only to feed themselves, while white commercial farmers kept a tight grip on cash crops.
Even those who were given land in purchase areas such as Chesa in Mt Darwin and Wiltshire in Mvuma did not have much choice. They had to farm maize and small grains. Some did cotton. If that gave them the chance to sell some of their produce, then fine.
But things are changing, and Fidelis Parerewa, a farmer in Domboshawa, some 35km to the north east Harare, has a great success story.
Parerewa, who entered into a contract with former commercial farmers, has turned his inherited two hectare plot into a thriving pepper venture that, marked by the bright red colour of the chilli from a distance, has become the envy of many.
“Most people here grow vegetables. However, I had to diversify and look into new avenues. And while it pays money to grow tomatoes – flowers and chillis are better paying,” he said.
The burly farmer, whose house has been electrified, thanks to his hard work, is growing California Mix Zamia, White Bird Chilli and Red Eye chilli.
“When I started, some people thought I was not serious but I have been able to make some money out of this project,” said Parerewa, pointing to the four-bedroomed house that he built using money he got from his sales.
He added: ‘‘This is strictly organic farming and everything that we have been doing does not need fertilizers’’.
The buyers want the chilli in its natural state and, annually, inspectors from Brazil and the US visit his farm to test the quality of his crops.
The Zimbabwean discovered that many other farmers from Parerewa’s community who hitherto concentrated on leafy vegetables and tomatoes were emulating him, also entering into contracts with former commercial farmers who have contacts in Europe and the US.
“I am also going to venture into growing flowers and hope to profit from the enterprise. It does not pay to focus on one thing; there is need to diversify,” said Kenneth Matamba, Parerewa’s neighbor.
This type of farming comes with a number of constraints, though. Like many other farmers in a drought prone country, Matamba complains of water shortages.
“Water is a problem as we are affected by the dry spells. This year was particularly bad and the shortage of water to irrigate the crops makes it necessary for me and other farmers to procure water pumps to use for irrigation purposes,” said Matamba, who did not get a fertile plot during the land redistribution exercise.
Most of the prime land during the resettlement programme went to influential people in Zanu (PF).
“I farm on two hectares and the land is now too small. I would need more land but the government did not give us anything during the land reform programme so we are still squeezed here,’’ said Parerewa.Post published in: News