All land can be arable say determined farmers

Every piece of land, including regions four and five and those devastated by natural disasters, can be made productive if farmers are innovative and determined. This is the belief of communal farmers Farisai Pedzi and William Gezana.

Pajuel Takura and wife Nancy Mafitirai
Pajuel Takura and wife Nancy Mafitirai

Some families hopelessly describe their land as not arable and battle to relocate elsewhere, but Pedzi of Chivi district and Gezana from Chimanimani urged them to stay put and make a plan.

A successful maize, wheat, tomato and citrus fruit farmer, Gezana was not discouraged by the devastating Cyclone Irene which destroyed livelihoods and lives a few years ago in some parts of the country.

“Irene virtually swept away our fields, destroyed all forms of livelihoods while claiming lives in its wake. Most affected families in Chimanimani, especially in areas like Bumba resettlement area and others under Chief Mutambara, left the area. But I stayed behind and turned the challenges into stepping stones towards sustainable farming,” said Gezana in a recent interview.

His stone water canals were into rubble overnight, but he constructed new water tunnels to direct water from higher ground into what remained of his fields. To help the improvised water harnessing process, he planted trees to suck and retain water from the water table – such as the indigenous Mukute tree. This innovation worked well and he started working on gardening and citrus fruit production, enriching his soil with organic manure year after year.

He now supplies bananas, king onions, tomatoes and other vegetables to markets in Mutare.

Swampy area

Pedzi, another successful communal farmer, lives in a swampy area. He devised methods to minimise the water content in the soil and planted crops that thrived in water-logged areas.

This was at a time when most of his fellow villagers had lost hope in making the land productive and sought employment elsewhere.

“I realised that if I could filter and direct water away from the swampy parts of the land to the dry land and plant suitable crops I would be able to use my land productively. Fish, citrus, sugar-cane, maize, rice, sweet potato, cattle and vegetable farming came to mind and later proved viable,” Pedzi said. He urged farmers to be resilient and innovative and work hard to make whatever sort of land they had productive.

Pedzi, a former cotton scout at Triangle Farm, has now become one of the major suppliers of farm produce both to the local community and nationally.

Mole trap

To complement and protect farming activities of fellow villager, Pajuel Takura,45, of Chikukwa village on the border with Mozambique, has designed a mole trapping device. He started experimenting with different containers, bark trees, the bamboo tree, 750 ml cooking oil bottles before finally succeeding with the 250 ml Vaseline bottle which does not allow the mole to turn around.

Takura also tried various baits and now favours an indigenous plant that he had observed moles liking. He puts the bottle and bait into a mole tunnel with a sprung stick and in 2011 alone he captured 39 moles.

The numbers kept rising as other farmers adopted the innovation. “I now work with other farmers around communities to share and spread the mole trap as it has enhanced farm yields,” said Takura.

Moles tend to demoralise farmers as they eat the bulk of sweet potatoes, banana suckers and many other crops.

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