Friday, 23 October 2020

YOUNG FARMER OF THE YEAR NAMED

 FARMING for this 27-year-old farmer from Umzingwane District in Matabeleland South comes naturally and within four years after he decided to do serious farming, he has bagged the most prestigious award envied by thousands of young farmers in the country.

It’s the coveted Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) Young Farmer of the Year award which he received at union’s 80th annual congress that was held in Gweru.

Mr Prosper Chikwara (27) of Green Farm in Umzingwane District in Matabeleland South walked away with a floating trophy, maize, carrot and cabbage seeds, as well as herbicides from Syngenta AG, a company that produces agrochemicals and seed.

The farm belongs to his father but because of his love for farming, his father allowed him to use part of the farm and he started with a hectare of maize which he said failed to meet his expectations.

He said he persevered before expanding operations and introduced beans, peas, cabbages up to now when his efforts have been recognised and awarded the Young Farmer of the year award.

“I’m still in shock, I don’t believe that I have been considered the best young farmer in the country by the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union. I will cherish this day for years to come as I work more on improving my farming so that we help the country become food self-sufficient,” said Mr Chikwara.

Mr Chikwara said he now employs seven people from Gwanda, Plumtree, Triangle and Umzingwane and he is aiming to employ more and contribute towards the socio-economic development of Umzingwane.

“Originally my father was from Mutare and ended up settling in Umzingwane where he got Green Farm after he met my mother. I was born and bred in Umzingwane. I went to Embakwe primary school before proceeding to Plumtree High School where I did my secondary school,” he said.

Mr Chikwara said he didn’t go to any college to learn about agriculture but learnt from other farmers along the way. He said agriculture is about embracing the hands-on mentality and having passion to till the land.

He said during the Covid-19-induced lockdown, he was busy with his employees on the land.

“I am a serious young farmer and very proud of working on the land. I didn’t cry when the lockdown was introduced because I devoted myself to working hard and looking for markets. Difficult it was yes, but we persevered and now we are being recognised. I’m using ‘we’ plural because farming takes a collective effort. I have my family and employees who support me and so this is for all of us,” said Mr Chikwara.

He said in 2018 through ZFU, he had an opportunity to travel to Berlin, German, for the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA). The GFFA is an international conference on agri-food policy issues.

Mr Chikwara said the trip was an eye opener for him as he learnt that the agricultural industry is too vital in global production and trade and therefore there is need for farmers, young and old to maximise on food production for socio-economic development of their communities.

“This trip to German was facilitated by ZFU after they saw my potential and I will never let them down. Agriculture is now a billion-dollar industry which can grow economies. We have Government programmes such as Pfumvudza and Command Agriculture and it is my view that every farmer and at whatever level he/she is, must at least be doing something in terms of working the land,” he said.

Handing over the seeds and chemicals, Syngenta Agro marketing support manager Mr Tawanda Mangisi said his company had the MRI514, SY944 and medium range varieties such as MRI64 and SY644 which can do well in Matabeleland regions.

He said Syngenta is always trying to develop sustainable hybrids in light of the changing and shorter seasons the country is now experiencing. Chronicle

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