Young enough to farm

Paul Johane is living proof that at the age of 72, it is still possible to launch a successful business.

He has established an impressive vegetable garden at his home in the Gwanda Association Home of the Aged.

Johane, originally from Malawi, said: “This home gives us food, shelter and health care and I am so grateful for everything that they do for the homeless. It does not mean that I should just fold my hands and wait for everything to be done for me while I still have the power to work”.

He said the garden was an opportunity for him to keep fit and to use his time wisely.

“Old people need some activity otherwise we will get all sorts of ailments,” said Johane.

He told The Zimbabwean that the income from his garden supplemented the donations he received at the centre.

“The centre cannot afford to give us everything that we need. Using the money from the garden, I can afford to buy what I want,” he said.

Johane makes at least $10 a week from his gardening venture.

“I love the exercise that comes with weeding, digging and watering my garden. It is a beautiful feeling to see plants grow,” he added.

Johane is one of nine homeless people at the Old Age Home. The centre can accommodate 15, according to Rido Mpofu, the centre’s general manager. Johane’s project has succeeded after a private company, Pedistock Investments, donated eight drip irrigation kits to the home.

“The climatic condition in our area is not conducive for other types of farming activity. Thanks to the drip irrigation kits, we are able to cultivate vegetables,” he said.

A kit has a 200l drum and 100m of irrigation pipes. It can cover a 250 square metre garden.

“Using this single kit, we managed to plant 7,000 plants and since we started the project, we have made more than $1,000,” he said.

The irrigation project was open to the community for use by the elderly.

“We have a lot of old people residing in surrounding districts who cannot engage in sustainable income generating projects because of the dry spell that hit this area four years ago,” said Mpofu.”Those who are still able bodied come and plant their vegetables and use the proceeds to sustain their livelihoods.”

He called on the government to sink boreholes in the area to ensure the uptake of the drip irrigation kits in the communities.

“We approached the inclusive government for assistance two years ago but we did not get any feedback,” he said.

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