Dumisani Nsingo Senior Farming Reporter
ONE of Bulawayo’s prominent businessman Mr Ernest Tekere is not only an astute entrepreneur but has tried his hand in agriculture and the results are not disappointing.Although Mr Tekere takes farming as a hobby his exploits in cropping have shown that he also has the ability to extract value from the soil.
He is one of the few urban and peri-urban farmers who have managed to get an optimum maize yield from his half hectare piece of land in Kingsdale’s suburb since embarking on farming activities four years ago.
Mr Tekere is the proprietor of one of the biggest and reputable security companies in Zimbabwe, Home Guard.
“I have been cropping maize and a bit of beans at this small plot for the past four years and have managed to harvest an average of two tonnes every season, which I donate to orphans or give to some of my workers.
“Last season I managed to get two and half tonnes of maize. I have a passion for farming but I don’t intend to take it as a business, to me it’s just a hobby. This year we put seed to the ground in October. I prefer practising dry planting to guard against crop failure in the event of low rains,” Mr Tekere said.
Early or dry planting is one of the factors that many farmers have always taken into account when producing various crops.
This practice is always recommended because it provides numerous benefits.
Early planting is one way farmers can use in the fight against weeds.
The other advantages of early planting includes optimised yields, drier corn in the fall, a greater choice of hybrid maturities, and a greater window of opportunity for replant decisions.
“Nowadays most farmers fail to get optimum yields due to low rains largely due to the effects of climate change but if the truth is to be told our ancestors could determine when the rains are likely to fall and to a certain extent its duration through studying nature’s occurrence and I have also used this traditional method when doing my cropping activities and it has never failed me,” Mr Tekere said.
He urged city dwellers living in low-density suburbs to embark in various agricultural enterprises so as to enhance their household food security.
Urban and peri-urban agriculture can be defined as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities.
It provides food products from different types of crops (grains, root crops, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits), animals (poultry, rabbits, goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, guinea pigs, fish, etc) as well as non-food products (aromatic and medicinal herbs, ornamental plants, tree products).
“I believe one can come up with a vibrant agricultural enterprise even in a small piece of land. I have noted with concern the failure by most people living in low-density areas to embark in any agricultural activities.
“People should take note that by farming they will not only improve household food security but contribute to the reduction of their budget allocation for food.”
He said the Government should expedite the land audit process so as to repossess the resource from those that are failing to productively utilise it.
“There are a number of people who are failing to utilise the land allocated to them during Government’s land reform programme and such individuals should be chucked out of the farms and pave way for the ones who are capable.”
As part of diversifying his agricultural enterprises, Mr Tekere said he has also ventured into cattle ranching at his two acre farm in Matobo District.
“I have a sizeable number of cattle, which were reared at a colleague’s farm and since I got land I have moved them there. My intention is to periodically pen-feed a certain number to improve their value and put them into the market so that I can generate income to channel into other businesses as well as buying more cattle,” Mr Tekere said.