THE love for farming has seen primary school teacher Mr Mpiyezwe Moyo practise intensive integrated farming on a small piece of land at his homestead.
With just a hectare of land Mr Moyo who is aged 42 has turned his homestead into a hub of several farming projects.
Mr Moyo has an orchard which has a variety of fruit trees. He is also into fish farming, horticulture, fodder production and poultry among other activities.
Mr Moyo recently introduced a tree nursery.
He started his farming project in 2014 with a small garden project where he was growing chomolia which he sold to community members.
Mr Moyo then started growing fruit trees within his homestead for consumption with his family. The demand for fruits within his community grew which led him to establish an orchard where he grows fruit trees for an income.
In September last year he started a fish farming project. He started with one fish pond and later established another one. His farming activities have significantly helped Mr Moyo to fend for his family. His project has become a major source of fresh produce for his community.
He extracts his water from a 23-metre deep well which uses a solar powered submersible pump.
Mr Moyo who is a teacher at Sukwe Primary School in Gwanda, said he has always had a love for farming although he holds a Diploma in Education from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic College. During school terms he travels from his workplace to his homestead situated about 15 kilometres away whenever he can, to manage his project.
During his absence a domestic worker manages the projects.
“I dug a well at my homestead in 2013 and I started my farming project in the following year. I started with a small garden where I was growing chomolia. People would come in numbers to buy vegetables from me. I went on to plant fruit trees at my homestead for consumption with my family. People started coming in numbers to ask for fruits and
I then realised that I could make good money through selling fruit,” he said.
Mr Moyo added: “I also extended my garden and introduced more crops. I removed all non fruit trees around my homestead and I replaced them with fruit trees. I have a variety of fruit trees which include guavas, paw paws, mulberry, lemons, mangoes, bananas, apples, naartjies, oranges, Mexican apple (amazhanje) and snot apple (uxakuxaku).”
He decided to venture into fish farming in September last year after realising that many people were now into horticulture. Mr Moyo got six fingerlings from a friend who stays in a neighbouring ward.
A month later he had hundreds of fish in his ponds. Mr Moyo said he looked for modules on fish farming and studied how to run a fish project. He said he has harvested his fish once and he is set to harvest them again.
“I realised that many people were now into horticulture and I decided to diversify and venture into fish farming because no one was practising it in the area. I studied on my own how to successfully run the project. Now villagers come to me seeking knowledge on how to farm fish. I also supply villagers who want to venture into fish farming with fingerlings,” he said.
Mr Moyo added: “Fish farming is a good cash source because fish multiply fast. I started off with six fish and after a month I had hundreds.”
He attributed the success of his projects to dedication and hard work. Mr Moyo said being a successful worker requires one to be thorough.
He said he pays special attention to his trees to ensure they are highly productive. Mr Moyo said he uses manure to promote growth and chemicals to control diseases and pests.
For his fish project, Mr Moyo ensures that his ponds are kept clean in order to curb disease occurrences. He said it is also important to keep predators out of the ponds. Mr Moyo said chemicals used on trees and vegetables can be harmful if they reach the ponds.
“Farming is an inborn thing for me as I started it at a tender age. My love for agriculture dates back to when I was in primary school. Even though I’m a teacher I haven’t lost my love for it. Whenever I’m at home I make it a point to thoroughly inspect my projects to make sure that all is going well. I utilise any opportunity which I get to go home during the school weeks,” Mr Moyo said.
He added: “I’m able to juggle both my farming project and formal job to ensure that my work isn’t affected and that I don’t short change my pupils. I’m realising good income from my agricultural projects. I have five children who are in school and I’m also furthering my studies using the money I get from my projects.”
Mr Moyo said he realised the importance of practising environment friendly farming methods through agro forestry. — @DubeMatutu