By Margaret Kamba
There is a new economic war which has taken Zimbabwe by storm. A war that has seen the young people of this country taking up arms not in the barrel of a gun but in the productive use of their hands to till the land and emancipate their own from the shackles of poverty.
It is a war that has seen the young people daring the status quo and opening their minds to the realisation of the gains of independence. The opening of minds to the realisation that what their forefathers fought for was indeed and still is where their freedom lies.
To the ordinary men and women, owning a piece of land is ordinary, but to these young men and women, it is the understanding of mari or money in reverse.
That taking up of arms has seen the age groups between 28 and 35 tilling the land in various horticultural produce and other cash crops. This is the new fight which many are prepared for just as their forefathers who walked miles into neighbouring countries to fight for Zimbabwe’s liberation.
It is like passing on the battle stick from one person to another but in this case, the elderly men and women who were youths during that period of the liberation struggle are passing on the battle to today’s young people who must fight the next war of economic emancipation in their youthful years.
It is a war that resonates well with the New Dispensation’s thrust of productivity, productivity and more productivity.
This agricultural war is a farming business in which they must keep records of all cropping activities, determine the appropriate soil moisture content for sowing, apply the right chemicals or alternatives and if possible embark on smart agriculture technologies for poverty eradication.
It is stories from Lameck Arther Chitogo (32) from the Midlands Province into horticultural produce such as cabbages, onions, butternuts, rape, Sebastin Muranga (34) Midlands Province horticultural produce such as tomatoes, cabbages and maize, Crispen Gumbura (27) Midlands Province horticultural produce, Pearson Kunaka (32) Mashonaland Province cabbages, onions and Ruvimbo Hove (23) Midlands Province cabbages that make us smile.
Stories by Learnmore Chada Age (35) Mashonaland East Province Chia seeds, bee farming and maize, Zivai Sigauke Age (34) Avanos Seeds, Bongani Shingirirai Mazibisa (34) Midlands Province boer goats and sheep and Clive Nyapokoto (34) Mashonaland East Province beekeeping, aquaponics, herbs, livestock, maggots worms, nursery fruit trees that make us daring.
It is these successful stories that are inspiring other young people to get into the fight and alleviate their people’s lives.
We realise that it is a war that has seen the renting of farms becoming the normal for many young farmers. It is however a challenge which has seen many being duped into paying thousands of United States Dollars after failing to get to be allocated farms.
It has however not stopped them from pursuing their dreams of toiling the land brought to the landless black majority on the back of the lives of many sons and daughters of the soil who journeyed miles in order to free Zimbabwe from colonial rule.
Fungai Marimo’s story is one such story which has seen the 30 year old renting different farms and moving from place to place in order to make his mark in feeding the nation and improving the country’s breadbasket status.
“I have always been passionate about farming despite learning it in school, I went a step further by doing practicals back home which was at my brother’s farm. Here I learnt farm management, calculations and some basics which include how to avoid flooding of markets.
“After completing my Form Four, I remained at my brother’s farm where I continued with farming. After that I embarked on horticultural farming on and off at different farms where I would rent 10 to 20 hectares producing tomatoes and butternuts.”
Asked if he has applied for his own piece of land, Cde Marimo said “I have been duped a lot of times and I got tired although I am in the process of trying to start the process again. I have been renting farms for a while now and what is sad is that when the land owner sees you thriving, they change goal posts making it hard to continue on the same farm.
“Some of us have had to struggle to make ends meet because our parents left us no inheritance. Being able to find my own piece of land will be my greatest wish because in Zimbabwe farming is the real deal.”
Land audits are currently being done in order to allocate land to those who can utilize it properly. Efforts are also being made by various associations to make sure that capable youths also benefit from the land.
Efforts are also being made by the Apex Council for Youth in Agriculture to make sure that capable youths also benefit from the land. The organization’s National Chairperson John Muchenje said they will keep on pressing the government until the youth get land.