Fig Tree 8 Farm wows ZNDU visitors
Patrick Chitumba, [email protected]
IN 2011, Ms Kudzai Katiyo benefited from the land redistribution programme and he had only three cattle.
Today, she is a proud owner of 130 heifers and makes her own feed. Ms Katiyo also runs a butchery and employs 18 people.
She owns Fig Tree 8 Farm which is now popularly known as WeUmambo Centre of Excellence which is located in Somabula outside Gweru.
Ms Katiyo yesterday showed around participants from the Zimbabwe National Defence University (ZNDU) Course Number 12/23 who were on a domestic study tour.
ZNDU Vice Chancellor Air Vice Marshal Dr Michael Tedzani Moyo was leading participants from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and allied participants from countries that included Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia among others.
The participants were left mesmerised by the works that are being done at the farm which they said is a clear indication that President Mnangagwa’s philosophy Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo” is being implemented from grass roots.
Ms Katiyo who also identifies herself as WeUmambo (of the royal priesthood), talks authoritatively about livestock feed formulation, cross-breeding of cattle, disc harrows, and irrigation for pastures.
She is into livestock production concentrating on cattle ranching and cattle fattening projects. There are now 130 cattle under cattle ranching and 30 at any given time under cattle fattening.
The purpose of cattle fattening is to increase the weight of the cattle over 90 days and to raise the quality of the beef for commercial purposes.
Ms Katiyo has over 200 rabbits, goats, sheep and road runners as well and makes her own feed for the livestock.
She has tractors, a borehole and has built herself a beautiful farm house.
In an interview after touring the farm, Dr Moyo said the National Defence Course is divided into four terms.
“During Term One, we have the domestic study tour which is designed to enable the participants to appreciate the endowment of our rich country Zimbabwe and for this year, we requested to visit Fig Tree. There is an old adage that says seeing is learning because our programme on national security covers all sectors from the infrastructure, economy, health, agriculture, mining and tourism,” he said.
“Since we are on a tour, farming is part of what we have decided as the theme of this year’s tour and we found this farm along the way.”
The studies revolve around Foundational Theory and Zimbabwe Domestic Studies, International Security Studies, National Security Studies and National Defence Building.
Dr Moyo said the Fig Tree Farm tour was aimed at making the participants appreciate the importance of farming and hard work.
“We wanted the participants to feel the need to work hard starting from the bottom up and not like someone who has just won a lottery without working hard. This tour is a motivation to all, the work that has been done here speaks to NDS 1 and Vision 2030,” he said.
“We learnt that it’s not about one having lots of money or popular names, but perseverance, determination and hard work for one to achieve anything like what we have witnessed here.”
Ms Katiyo told the participants that when she moved onto the farm it was just an idle land with no development.
“In 2012, I lost my husband and he was the breadwinner hence as a mother, I needed to be there for my two children and extended family,” she said.
Ms Katiyo said they had started with three cattle before building their herd to over 100.
“By 2015 my herd was growing and I had six employees. In 2017 I registered my company WeUmambo Holdings and renamed this farm WeUmambo Centre of Excellence because we are talking development, NDS 1 and Vision 2030,” she said.
“We practise smart agriculture, we practice Pfumvudza/ Intwasa, we are into feed formulation, hay baling, cattle fattening and cattle ranching.”
Ms Katiyo said from the cattle fattening programme, they do value addition and sell meat at their butchery in Gweru and also supply schools, hotels and other markets.
“The visit by Dr Moyo and your team is a welcome development for us and we are going to work hard in line with the Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo philosophy,” she said.
One of the participants, Group Captain Benedict Tongha from the Nigerian Air Force said: “We have been exposed to the farm and how they have utilised the resources to improve food security for themselves and the country at large. They have been able to utilise the resources to enhance national food security which is commendable.”
Group Captain Tongha said production and productivity at the farm speak to the fact that Africans can fix their own problems without the assistance of outsiders.
“This is evident to the fact that as Africans we don’t need to wait for outsiders to bring us solutions, the solutions should be inside out and we must bring out what makes us Africans like working on the land productively,” he said.
Colonel Stevens Mfana from South Africa National Defence Forces commended Ms Katiyo and her team, saying the tour was an eye-opener for him.
“I learnt that we can do anything we want if we are determined like what is happening at this farm,” he said.
ZNDU was established through Presidential Proclamation 2 of 2017 with its pilot programmes enrolling students from Government institutions only.
However, it later opened its doors to the public in February 2021 and offers competitive academic study options in addition to serving as a national defence and security think-tank.
In line with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development’s new policy thrust on Education 5.0, the university nurtures research, teaching, community service, innovation and industrialisation to enhance national development.