FEMALE farmers are defining the success story of the land reform programme, with many contributing significantly to food security for the nation as they continue to rise fast to levels unparalleled by their male counterparts.
Some of these women involved in agriculture are small scale farmers Ms Felida Ncube (57) and Ms Sirira Moyo (45) of Nyamandlovu in Umguza District, Matabeleland North.
For more than 20 years, the two women have been working side by side at Mpandeni Farm, not only for their own benefit, but to boost food security in the country.
The two neighbours have since turned their plot into a green belt, which is now the envy of many.
They have taken many by surprise to become one of the best performing female farmers at Mpandeni Farm. Today, some locals are drawing inspiration from the two female farmers who are fully dedicated to tilling their land.
Our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday visited the two women at Mpandeni Farm to share their success story.
Despite water challenges due to constant breakdown of electric powered engine pumps and constant power cuts, Ms Moyo and Ms Ncube continue to register success.
Having benefited from the Presidential Inputs Scheme, the two farmers planted 3 hectares of wheat at their plot and are anticipating to harvest 10 tonnes in November.
Farmers under the Presidential Inputs Scheme received seed, fertilisers and chemicals on credit against delivery of the crop, but are expected to pay for electricity and labour.
Zimbabwe is targeting 85 000 hectares of wheat this winter from all farmers to ensure self-sufficiency.
Besides the small-scale farmers under Presidential Inputs and the larger farmers under Command Agriculture there are also those who can self-finance the crop or are privately contracted, and this group is likely to plant 15 000ha.
Zimbabwe needs at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year to meet its flour demand.
Ms Moyo said they planted their wheat in June, but due to water challenges, there was a slight delay in the seed germinating.
“Since wheat has to be grown under irrigation, we had challenge in terms of water since some of our engines are not working and coupled with load shedding, this resulted in the seed germinating, delaying” she said.
“We expect to harvest at least 10 tonnes in November. Our other major challenges are rodents and birds feasting on the wheat.”
Ms Moyo said as part of their future plans, they intend expanding the area of hectarage to increase yields.
“Our hope is to expand the area in future. We don’t have enough boreholes and some of them are now old. We are confident that if have enough water, the sky is the limit because as female farmers, our desire to is continue contributing to food security in the country.”
Ms Moyo, a mother of three, said through farming she has managed to buy her own car, raise money for school fees and buy other farming implements.
“I have three children, the eldest is studying mechanical engineering at the Bulawayo Polytechnic, the second one has just completed A Level while the last born is doing Form Two. It is through farming that I managed to raise money to pay school fees for my children,” she said.
Ms Ncube, who looks after her seven children and five grandchildren, urged women to be at the forefront in farming.
“Gone are the days when farming used to be a male domain. As women we are now equal to the task and therefore it is important for female farmers to contribute to the country’s economic growth by participating in farming,” she said.
Ms Ncube said they are also involved in horticulture and taking their produce to markets in Bulawayo. She said their future plan is to explore international markets.
“We are also into horticulture and this is a thriving agro-based business which we have been involved in for the past 20 years or so. When I started farming in 1989, I was a member of Thembelani Cooperative,” she said.
“We grow butternut, cabbages, tomatoes, onions, carrots and cucumber, which we then take to Bulawayo. Through farming, I have managed to feed my children as well as taking them to school.”
Ms Ncube said although she and Ms Moyo are still part of the 26-member cooperative, they opted to go into partnership.
She said they managed to perfect the art of farming after receiving support and extensive training from Agritex officers who have been working with farmers in Umguza District.
Local village head and secretary of Thembanani Cooperative Mr Philip Mbuyiswa said unlike in the past, women are playing a leading role in the farming project and contributing to food security in the district.