Headmaster branches out into tree-growing business

A Chimanimani headteacher, Oddwell Shayamano, is running a thriving tree planting project at his homestead in Mhakwe area in the district.

Passionate about trees: Oddwell Shayamano among the tree saplings he grows in Mhakwe.
Passionate about trees: Oddwell Shayamano among the tree saplings he grows in Mhakwe.

The project, Mhakwe Go Green Nurseries, is not only proving to be a money-spinner for the poorly paid teacher but has also attracted tree buyers from as far as Harare.

“I started this project after realising that a lot of indigenous and endangered trees were fast disappearing. In my nursery, I nurse and raise both exotic and indigenous trees but am particularly concerned with endangered species such as mukamba (afzelia quanzensis) and mupfura (amalula),” said Shayamano, who also raises fruit trees and vines, such as avocado, guava, mango and grape.

He gets his seed mostly from schoolchildren and villagers in the area and plants the tree seedlings in well maintained seed beds.

“I have placed bins in the school yard where I ask students and teachers to dispose of the seeds of fruits they’ve eaten. Through this arrangement, I have managed to collect a variety of both exotic and indigenous fruits seeds which I dry and then plant in seed beds,” said Shayamano, whose passion for trees started at a young age.

“Some of my big clients include Africa University, University of Zimbabwe, rural districts councils and schools. The forestry commission has also been very supportive of my project,” he said.

Shayamano and his wife also nurse and sell vativa grass, which is used in reclamation projects. Rural district councils and non-governmental organisations have been making a beeline to his homestead to buy the grass to rehabilitate degraded lands.

Through the project, Shayamano has been able to send his children to university.

His major challenge, however, is water.

“My wish is to have my own borehole to irrigate the plants. Right now, I use Zimbabwe National Water Authority water, which is more expensive. I also plan to move to a spacious and more easily accessible area,” he said.

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