Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
LIKE the famous King Midas, popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold, Bulawayo farmer Mr Tatenda Kunzekweguta (28) of Montgomery believes whatever he touches turns green.
The youthful farmer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management, has transformed his father’s plot into a thriving horticulture project, supplying Bulawayo markets with cabbages, vegetables, tomatoes, carrots and onions.
His massive farming project has become an envy of many in Montgomery on the outskirts of Bulawayo where he is involved in horticulture farming. Currently, Mr Kunzekweguta has planted 50 000 cabbages, which are being watered through drip irrigation.
He is already harvesting potatoes.
Mr Kunzekweguta has also created employment for his community. He employs 10 people on a permanent basis, while others are hired on seasonal basis.
“We started this project about 10 years after my father bought this piece of land. At the time I had just finished high school and going to university,” he said.
“I went to Africa University and studied Agriculture and Natural Resources Management, majoring in horticulture.”
Mr Kunzekweguta said he used to grow rain-fed summer crops before he decided to resort to the horticulture project.
“After finishing my studies in 2015, I didn’t bother looking for a job. I thought it was ideal to work on my father’s piece of land to make money. I then decided to venture into horticulture focusing on cabbages, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and potatoes.
“We used to grow maize, sugar beans and soyabeans due to the fact that we didn’t have an irrigation system. We have now introduced a drip irrigation system for effective water usage pumping water from three boreholes using electric-powered engines.”
The three boreholes feed water into overnight storage tanks.
“Our farm is 16 hectares, but the area we are cultivating is six hectares. We are working on expanding the project so that we effectively use the entire space that is arable. We serve the Bulawayo market and supply fruit and vegetable shops, supermarkets, schools and individuals,” he said.
He recently planted cabbages and hopes to harvest them in February. He firmly believes in the organic fertilisation of soil to strike a balance between the environment and the ecosystem.
“Right now, we have planted 50 000 cabbages and we just finished harvesting potatoes and soon we will be planting more crops in January.”
Mr Kunzekweguta said as a farmer, it is important to be innovative and implement smart farming methods by cutting on energy usage.
“There is also a need to embrace technology and do a lot of research on your particular field.”
He expressed concern over rampant theft of copper cables, saying they affected his operations.
As part of his future plans to expand his business venture, Mr Kunzekweguta is considering exploring foreign markets.
“We are planning on exploring foreign markets, majoring on peas production, but unfortunately Covid-19 has affected us. We want to tap into the Netherlands market, which is lucrative,” he said.
As part of diversification, Mr Kunzekweguta intends to introduce goat rearing and plans are already at an advanced stage. — @mashnets