Woman farmer defies odds
Gweru (The Times-New Ziana) – A Gweru woman, Matilda Manhambo of Kupfuma Ishungu Farm, has defied all sorts of odds to run a successful farming business.
Her exploits have caught the eye of the business organization, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, which this year awarded her the trophy of Rural Businesswoman for the Year 2018.
Kupfuma Ishungu has adopted a business model that sees the farm generating money from projects that include piggery, poultry, cattle ranching, rabbits, goats and vegetables which include potatoes, tomatoes, onions and cabbages among others.
Manhambo, who is a widow, challenged farmers who are facing challenges, especially young women, to work hard as farming can support livelihoods.
Speaking during a tour of the farm by members of the Legions Farmers Club, Manhambo said farming is big business and she has been able to turn around her fortunes through utilizing her A1 farm which is situated in the Somabhula area.
“I would like to extend my invitation to young ladies out there who are dying in poverty to come get advice on how to get started in agriculture.
“No matter how small the piece of land is, through agriculture, they can have a decent living,” she said.
Manhambo, who uses solar as her source of energy for most of her farming activities, said she plans to upgrade the solar system so that it powers the irrigation system.
“I am thinking of upgrading my solar system so that ZESA power becomes the backup power source.
“We want most of our machines to become solar powered so that we minimize use of electricity,” she said.
Legion Farmers Club interim secretary, Douglas Munemo, who is a lecturer at the Midlands State University, said the visit made them feel the weight of women in farming.
“As male farmers and as an institution, we are greatly challenged with what we saw today at Kupfuma Ishungu Farm where a widow is bringing her ‘A’ game to her farm yet there are many male farmers who are failing to produce what she is producing here,” he Munemo said.
“Look at her piggery and her thriving poultry project, you go to the kraal she has a big herd and in the fields she is doing well with six hectares under irrigation.”
Munemo spoke on the need to have serious relations between educational institutions and farmers and have more visits to different farms.
“As a department at the Midlands State University, we have seen that there is a lot we can benefit through farm visits.
“We can now begin to foster relations with these established farmers who can help our students with the practical side of learning as we offer more theory,” he said.
Munemo said if Zimbabwe had more farmers like Manhambo, the agriculture sector was going to be better, and urged more women to come on board.
“If we had more farmers like Mai Manhambo in Zimbabwe, our agriculture sector was going to be performing better than where it is today.
“We need more serious farmers like Mai Manhambo to come on board especially women,” he said.
Meanwhile, farmers have complained over tertiary students who are seconded to their farms for attachment as they do not add value to their activities.
Munemo said there are looking into their curriculum to see where adjustment needs to be done.
“As an institution, we are in the process of reviewing our curriculum so that our students become practically equipped and not theoretically equipped only,” he said.
The Times-New Ziana