BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA
An average farmer’s greatest challenge when funding is in place is getting it right on the field.
It is a combination of the right choice of crop and variety to grow in the right season and area plus the knowhow.
In cases where they depend solely on the rains, then the rainfall patterns are critical and in the absence of disasters and pests, they should enjoy a good harvest.
Striking the right chord on the field was until recently sadly just not enough for farmers around Kipendale and Arcadia farms in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central province town of Bindura given the terrible state of roads.
Until last year, farmers struggled to get inputs to their farms.
In the event they did succeed despite the bad road networks, sending their produce to the market became an even bigger headache as the volumes were bigger.
Seasoned farmer Gutai Dheya of Kipendale farm narrated how he struggled to operate because of the bad road before Chinese miner Ming Chang Sino-Africa Investments (Ming Chang) came to the rescue, resurfacing an almost 20km stretch connecting the farming area, Garikai resettlement area and the town of Bindura through Chipadze township.
“I am a farmer at Kipendale farm, this road was the worst and it gave us a lot of trouble especially when it came to transporting our produce to the market.
“There was also a problem for us to transport inputs to the farms especially during the rainy season,” Dheya said.
“Truck drivers are also now able to make it to our farms easily to deliver our produce to the market.”
Most of his 300-hectare farm is under irrigation and is very productive.
Currently, he is growing maize seed, maize, sorghum and soya beans.
With the improved transport network, he is preparing to get into horticulture.
“Now that we have decent roads, I can get into horticulture so that my farm has diversity and I get cash on a daily basis from vegetable sales, for instance, instead of having to wait for the harvest twice a year at most,” Dheya added.
He is one of the many farmers and residents who have had to pay a premium for transport due to the terrible state of the road, but now it is a thing of the past.
Horticulture had become unattractive because of the frequency with which deliveries are made.
Tatenda Kuhlengisa, also a farmer in the area, said the road project had opened up the area to more farming opportunities and enabled farmers to live up to their full potential.
“Connectivity has become an issue and this road has just opened up a lot for us,” Kuhlengisa said.
Bindura Municipality ward 12 councilor Wonder Machisi said Ming Chang invested heavily into the road works, resurfacing the gravel road for almost 20km at its own expense.
The road leads to Garikai, a high-density resettlement area created by the authorities in the area.
“Their mine is about 5km from Chipadze, but the road works stretch for about 20km which benefits the entire community and it is such (corporate social) responsibility that we want.
“If more companies partnered with the government, we could even have the roads tarred and if we are getting so many benefits, imagine if the roads were tarred,” Machisi said.
“Right now, we are even having road traffic accidents on this stretch that would never have happened before because now vehicles can even speed and the volume of traffic has increased tremendously.”
The community now wants Ming Chang to extend the road beyond the current stretch and into other surrounding communities as well as fund irrigation projects in the farming communities.
Ming Chang directors have vowed to maintain the roads, a promise which surrounding communities hope is kept.