Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

So, when we launched TMG we gave you a theory – that if a rural farmer sells two cows for about $1,200, he can buy 5,000 tomato seedlings, producing approximately 20,000kg of tomatoes, worth between $4,000.00 (if they sell at 20cents/kg) and $16,000.00 (if the market price is 80cents/kg).

And now we can tell you about a farmer who did just that. Albert Sibanda came into contact with the programme in October 2013 when he signed up for the 3 day training at Shalom, Kezi. Sibanda has been a bricklayer most of his adult life, and has never farmed, save for his cattle. Following training, he took part of his paddock – a quarter of a hectare – and started preparing it for his tomato crop. The weather wasn’t great – there was too much rain last season, and he faced the problems of aphids, blossom-end rot and a bit of dampening off in the early stages of the crop.

Not deterred, Sibanda attended module 2 of the training at Shalom to consolidate the learning he already had. He maintained high standards, used eco-friendly fertilizers such as manure from his cows to give the crop a healthy start (cow manure is a good basal dresser), and chicken manure as a top dresser to compliment compound J. This gave his tomatoes the lush green foliage that is turning Matabeleland green… (couldn’t resist!). Using free local resources also saves him some money and improves his profit.

Sibanda is just now starting to harvest his crop, and is looking at getting about 19,000kg – a fantastic yield. His quality is also very good, which should get him a good price at the market. The market price for the past month or so has been 60 to 70cents per kg (which would earn him $13,300); however last week a larger commercial farmer delivered large quantities which dropped the market price to 35cents/kg. Even at this lower price, Sibanda still earns $6,650 from the comfort of his Ntabazinduna home – not bad for a $1,200 investment.

Of course this is only guesswork at present because Sibanda has not yet finished harvesting. An additional factor that will help him and other farmers is the new legislation passed by Government recently that is stopping the import of agro-produce from other countries in order to give our farmers a chance. This is contributing to the higher prices the farmers can get for their produce.

This is development. And in the words of Walt Disney ‘the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing’ Join the doers, let’s turn Matabeleland Green!

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