From vegetable vendor to farm owner

“Every week, she harvests at least 120 crates of tomatoes, from which she pockets at least US$2 500.”

THIRTY-SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Sibusisiwe Nyakunhuwa of Zuderburg Resettlement area in Zvishavane, Midlands province, has defied the odds, as she has transitioned from being a vegetable vendor to a major producer of the same.

Sibusisiwe is the proud owner of a six-hectare plot that is 20 kilometres from Zvishavane town, along the Masvingo-Bulawayo highway, where she has ventured into horticulture.

The mother of two currently employs five full-time workers, while between 20 and 25 casual workers are engaged during tomato or cabbage harvesting, which is usually once per week.

Between 2016 and 2019, Sibusisiwe eked out a living as vegetable vendor.

After toiling and traversing all corners of the mining town with a basket balanced on her head, she subsequently made a decision that changed her life for the better.

“I started selling various vegetables door-to-door until I established my small table in Zvishavane town.

“But, considering that many people in our town are mostly into mining, vegetables, especially tomatoes, are in such short supply that I would travel to Bulawayo to get some supplies,” Sibusisiwe told The Sunday Mail Online.

“There were few farmers close to Zvishavane.”

The demand for fresh farm produce, she said, pushed her to start farming, but she had no land.

“After seeing my passion, my uncle blessed me with this piece of land.

“I started to work towards investing in horticulture. Currently, I specialise in tomatoes and cabbages.”

She drilled and installed a solar-powered borehole, which supplies water through drip irrigation for her crops.

“I am happy that my borehole has been successfully supplying enough water for my crops, despite the area being dry,” she said.

Every week, she harvests at least 120 crates of tomatoes, from which she pockets at least US$2 500.

“Although my husband is employed, I am no longer a housewife but an employer myself.

“I urge women of my age to know that dirty hands make clean money. Agriculture is for all, and women can take up the opportunities that are readily available,” she added.

Sibusisiwe is targeting to diversify her enterprise by establishing fishponds in her horticulture garden.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said Zimbabwe needs youths that are hands-on.

“We need people who are practical. Zimbabwe cannot be developed with theories.

“If we have youths that work on land, we are assured of the achievement of Vision 2030,” he said.

She now owns her own two-tonne truck, which, however, cannot transport all her produce.

Some customers come to collect their orders on their own, using even 10-tonne trucks.

As youths and women constitute over 60 and 52 percent of the country’s population, respectively, mainstreaming the two groups into agriculture is considered the panacea for food security.

With women like Sibusisiwe, Zimbabwe’s agriculture revolution is bound to succeed.

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