My journey in pig farming - By Ms. Tendai Rugare
Posted by Patricia Lumba on 04 April 2021 8:25 PM CAT
I was one of the beneficiaries of the process that has seen more than 17 million acres redistributed in the last 15 years. The benefits involved being awarded 25 acres of land, which is being used to rears goats and breed pigs. Additionally, this land is used to grow maize and sunflower, which forms the bulk of feeds for my animals.
In the early 2000s, the Zimbabwean Government under the late President Robert Mugabe initiated land reforms in which land belonging to more than 4,000 white commercial farmers were compulsorily acquired for redistribution to natives. The government argued the reforms were necessary to correct a colonial imbalance in which a few white farmers owned most of the country’s arable land.
Whereas some analysts have written off the fast-track land reforms as a complete failure, many believe that it created an agricultural model from smallholder farmers with a significant number of Zimbabweans gaining access to land.
In a continent where only 15 percent of landholders are women while the youth generally lack the means to own land, I count herself lucky. But it was not an easy process.
There were thousands of applications at the Ministry of Lands, and one had to undergo a slow and tedious assessment process to establish suitability at the district level. Driven by a passion for agriculture and an undying spirit to fulfill her childhood ambition of being a successful farmer, I had to go up to the provincial office to plead my case.
Fortunately the government was running a program to empower young women farmers and I had already started an agricultural project which was already a success. Because of my persistence and passion, they awarded me the land so that I can be used as a success story for the program,” she explains.
I am one of the few youth in Zimbabwe who are profiting from livestock farming. Born in Chiredzi in Masvingo Province, I have become a household name in my community where many are relying on me for quality pig and goat products.
I sell the products directly from the farm to consumers at a butchery in the local shopping centre, thus creating a value chain. [PML1] When we slaughter the pigs, we deep freeze the pork and then slice the chops into braai packs for those who want to do open fire grill. Zimbabweans love braai and we give them the perfect meat for it.
The butchery is located in a densely populated area with s high traffic of people and liquor outlets that provide ready market for the braai packs. I have also established braai stands where households visit to buy meat for home as well.
I am not only benefitting from livestock farming where I rake in an average of USD 10000 annually but I am also creating employment for my fellow youth. I currently employ seven permanent workers at the farm and the butchery and employ more workers during peak seasons.
I credit her success partly to the Africa Youth in Livestock and Fisheries and Incubation Network (AYLFAIN) which as a member has enabled her to think outside the box given available resources, problem and solution giving to any situation and challenges as a farmer. “The networking opportunity with other young farmers around the continent has been made immense contribution my success in farming.
Agribusiness is not short of challenges, especially for a young woman, who has to face fierce competition from elderly male counterparts who have been in the business for a long time. They always try to shoot down my products, this is the story of the patriarchal society I come from. However, I would like to thank the government, which through key ministries has been lobbying for women’s involvement in farming and gradually this perception of looking down on women as drivers of change and development is changing.
I believe that agriculture and food security can be transformed across Africa if the power of women and youth to bear on the challenges can be factored.
My typical day starts at 5 am (South African Time) when I carry poles for fencing before feeding and cleaning pigs and sties from 7 am. This takes about two hours, then at 10 am, I tend to the goats by giving them feed and water.
Once the pigs and goats have been slaughtered and delivered to the butchery on slaughter days, I head to the shopping centre to monitor how the business is running and count the stock.
But it is not all work and no play. As a Christian and a nature lover, I take walks and meditate in order to reconnect. Just to be in the wild scenic environment is soothing and therapeutic. And that is priceless!”