Despite operating in a difficult economic environment
without adequate resources such irrigation and tractors, Rennie Nyamukwarara, 54, from Ward 27 in Mutasa has defied all odds to become the winner of the 2014 Pioneer National Award for Small-Scale farmers.
She beat other contestants drawn from the country`s eight provinces to scoop the prestigious award.
Her success story has proved beyond doubt that women have the capacity to reach greater heights in all sectors of the economy – given equal opportunity and support like their male counterparts.
“I am delighted to win this prestigious prize. It represents other women who are marginalised and have not received recognition for their sterling work,” she said after receiving $7,000 cash prize, inputs, irrigation kit and drilling of a borehole at her homestead.
Operating on a six hectare farm, Nyamukwarara has managed to do wonders by producing 36 tonnes of maize from 3,3 hectares.
This effectively means she has managed to produce 12 tonnes of maize from one hectare without using irrigation or farming equipment, such as tractors or combine harvesters.
She has managed to surpass the 2012/13 season winner from
Zvishavane district Midlands who achieved an average of 5.5 t/ha in natural region four with excellent water harvesting practices. “I have a passion for agriculture and I want to see our country regain its status as the breadbasket of Africa,” said Nyamukwarara.
She said although she does not possess any qualification in agriculture, she believes the sector needs hard-working people with zeal to produce and eradicate hunger.
“I don’t possess any qualifications in agriculture but it’s our culture that people are taught to work hard so that they succeed.
Agriculture is not for lazy people but people should take it as a business,” she said.
Nyamukwarara said she inherited the culture of hardworking from her parents who were also farmers in the area. She emphasised the need for small holder farmers to embrace new farming technology so that they could improve their yields. She paid tribute to seed companies such as Pioneer and Agritex officers for their support and imparting knowledge and skills to smallholder farmers.
“I used to apply old methods of farming but the world is changing
Every day so we have to adapt to new techniques. Thanks to Agritex officers because they taught me new technology such as mixed inter-cropping and application of ridges and this has improved my yields,” she said.
Nyamukwarara, who is now expected to do all-year farming following the drilling of borehole at her homestead by Pioneer Seed, boasts of supplying the local community with surplus food.
“I have been supplying disadvantaged members of the society, hospitals and schools such as Bonda Mission with my surplus food. Last season I supplied the market with four tonnes of maize and beans. People come as far as Rusape to buy maize at my homestead,” she said.
She, however, bemoaned lack of support from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) saying it has failed to timeously pay the farmers so that they go back to the fields.
She said this situation has exposed small-scale farmers to unscrupulous private buyers who offer low producer prices.
“Last season I did not sell to GMB because they were paying late. I had to sell my maize to Harare buyers whose prices were very low,” said Nyamukwarara, adding that GMB should improve its services and effectively discharge its mandate.
Given the opportunity, she said she needs a bigger farm so that she can produce more food for the nation as well as for export to boost the country`s foreign currency reserves.
“This is a challenge to some A2 farmers who are not fully utilising their land. Given an opportunity I need much bigger farm so that I can help boost food security in our country,” said Nyamukwarara.
From the fruits of her labout, she has managed to construct a new house at her farm as well as procuring a motor vehicle for the family. Nyamukwarara also said she has also purchased a house in Kuwadzana Harare using the proceeds from farming.
“I encourage our new farmers, especially women, that farming is a business. Women should be given opportunity to showcase what they are capable of doing,” she said.
Nyamukwavava appealed to government to adequately fund women in farming if the current efforts to revive the sector are to be achieved.
Pioneer Seeds Managing Director, Daniel Myres, hailed small-scale farmers, particularly women, for being the cornerstone of the agriculture sector since time immemorial.
This is the third edition of the Pioneer Good Farming Competition for the small-scale category and the level and intensity of the competition has increased every year.
“We have seen contestants yielding up to 9t/ha from dry land production,” said Myres, during the handover of the grand prize to Makwarara last week.
He said they were pushing the agenda of total and swift eradication of hunger.
“We believe this country can achieve food and nutrition security by deliberate conversion of our farmers from the household level, village level, and ward level going up,” said Myres.
He added that they have funded the competition to the tune of $250,000 despite economic challenges.
“We will continue to invest in the productivity initiatives for our farmers to going forward,” said Myres.
The company has also set up sustainable projects including borehole installations and provision of micro-irrigation kits for winners.Post published in: Agriculture