By Margaret Kamba
It is a few days before we celebrate this year’s Independence, which gives us a time to reflect upon the fruits of labour, sweat and sacrifice of many gallant sons and daughters of the soil who gave up their lives to liberate Zimbabwe.
One of the core reasons why the heroes of the First and Second Chimurenga took up arms, was to take back the land from the colonizers who had displaced the black indigenous people to infertile soils. Today as we look back at the hard won independence, it is an ideal time to ponder on the efforts by our young people who have fully utilized the land and empowered several others.
John Muchenje, a 35-year-old farmer, a case in point started commercial farming in 2017 after visiting Precabe farm owned by President E.D Mnangagwa.
During the visit, Cde Muchenje said the President challenged him to do something for his country by going into Commercial Agriculture and feeding the nation.
Cde Muchenje did not take that challenge lightly because from that day he has never retreated.
Life on his farm Mahamara Farm has seen him venturing into wheat, soya beans and sugar beans and horticulture production.
This year he boasts of 25 hectares of maize, 100 000 plants of cabbages and 80 000 onions while planting 30 000 seedlings every two weeks. He has a target to produce 100 000 cabbages weekly and ensure that the country has enough produce at an affordable price.
What then is Independence for the young farmer who was recently awarded the Young Champion Farmer of the Year 2019 by President Emmerson Mnangagwa?
“As we celebrate Zimbabwe @40, my special thanks goes to our War Veterans for sacrificing their lives and fighting for our land. Land is a special resource which is very vital and black land ownership which resulted from Land Reform Programme in 2000 was a great move,” Cde Muchenje said.
“As a young person, I salute our Veterans of the Liberation Struggle for that initiative hence we classify war veterans as a unique and important class of people in our country. Land reform is irreversible and that must stand no matter what. We don't care about the sanctions which came from the Land Reform. It is our land, our heritage and for future generations to come.
“As we also celebrate our Independence, it is now time for our generation to introspect and assess our contribution to the growth of the Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector. It is time that youths make their voice louder in respect of the land issue.”
Cde Muchenje challenged other youths to find their space and play their part in growing the economy.
“As a ZANU PF Youth Provincial member for Midlands Province and the current National Young Champion Farmer of the Year 2019, I would say to my colleagues farming is a lucrative business which I urge all youth to embark on to ensure food security for our Nation,” Cde Muchenje said.
“We have to ensure and push for our concerns to be addressed as far as land allocation is concerned. I am happy that the President initiated downsizing which will result in many youths having a chance to own land. This is the only way youths can effectively assist in the revival of the economy.
“We need to make sure we feed our nation, create employment, work on reducing and eliminating importation bill through producing what we are importing and generate foreign currency through exporting. Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Southern Africa and we can recover that fit if we work.
“Our President E.D Mnangagwa and his government have committed to give more land to the youth and women after Land Audit finalization. I have seen that we have few youths in Agriculture hence I continue to lobby and advocate for more land to be allocated to youth. Youth have passion and interests in the farming sector but what we lack is land. A lot of land is idle and some under-utilized and some over-sized hence we are happy with the stance taken by the President on downsizing and reallocation.”