For a very long time Matabeleland has been beset by developmental challenges. When we compare ourselves with other parts of the country it is easy to start to think we have been dealt a bad card – the north and the east have better rains, better soils and are not as hot – so crops like maize tend to do better there. But does that mean we have nothing? If we take a look at Israel – they have less land (Matabeleland is 6 times bigger than Israel), they have worse soils (it’s mainly desert), and they have less rain (230mm per year, compared to our 630mm). They also have more people on that small land – 13.5million compared to our 3.5million – and yet not only do they manage to feed 4 times more people on a sixth of the land we have, they also export food to the rest of the world. Seen in this light, clearly we are missing something.
Its about vision
What we have been missing is vision – vision is seeing what God sees, and when we asked Him to show us what we have, we saw that with our hot temperatures, very little frost, plenty of sunshine, limited water and shallow soils, we have perfect greenhouse conditions. The only problem is that we are not using what we have for what it is meant for – we need to grow greenhouse plants (such as tomatoes), not maize. Truly without vision people perish.
Growing tomatoes not only makes sense in terms of the climate we have, but it makes economic sense too. On a hectare of maize farmers are harvesting about a ton, worth US$300. If they use the same hectare to grow tomatoes they will harvest between 40 – 60 tons worth between US6, 000 and $15, 000. But because we cannot grow tomatoes all year round at present (at least until we have sufficient irrigation equipment), farmers are also encouraged to raise chickens. This gives them an income every 6 weeks, and the manure the chickens produce saves farmers about US$1,000 in fertilizer costs per hectare of tomatoes – great synergy
Turning Matabeleland Green is about taking what God has put in our hands and stewarding it with wisdom for our common benefit and to His glory.