WHY ARE WE STRUGGLING TO PRODUCE FOOD IN ZIMBABWE?
Zimbabwe’s rural farmers are not failing to produce food because they are black or because they are inexperienced. They are very capable of producing food as they did for the past 10000yrs to build the Mutapa and Rozvi Empires. The problem is government, extension workers and companies like Seedco have destroyed their seeds, traditional farming practices and their ability to produce food for free.
Traditional Bread Basket.
From 900 AD Mutapa to the liberation war. To grow a hectare of food to feed a family of 10, store enough for a year and make money to buy clothes and take children to school, it cost a Zimbabwean rural farmer:
• $0.00, seeds saved from last season, family labor, a cow pulling a plough; cow dung, bat guano and manure as fertilizer; a well and rain to grow a hectare of food for 1 year. Soils remained fertile because of living manure and bacteria so there was no need to buy fertilizers. African pests were managed by their natural predators and non-chemical methods.
In that period, rural farmers produced everything the nation needed, from maize, peanuts, cotton, rapoko, millet, milk, and meat. They even sold food to Portuguese merchants as exports so there was no need to import food except in a drought.
Modernized And Commercialized Agriculture.
Today, to grow a hectare of food to feed a family of 10 and make money to buy clothes and take children to school, it costs the same Zimbabwean rural farmer:
• US$990, hybrids don’t reproduce and they require fertilizer. Rural farmers left their traditional seeds, now they have to rebuy hybrid seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and pay for labor every season to grow a hectare of food.
Western farming destroyed traditional farming, forests and the rain cycle, causing global warming and drought. Fertilizers kill soil, so farmers have to depend on more fertilizers.
Rural farmers stopped farming because they can’t afford to farm, they produce nothing and so 7mil people need UN food aid. This is compounded by sanctions as well but the above factors are self inflicted.
It’s not too late to save our economy. All we have to do as a nation is stop the pay-as-you-go-food-system by breaking our dependency on foreign seeds like those sold by French Limagrain owned Seedco. Fire our agriculture permanent secretary John Basera for destroying our seed stock when he was at Seedco.
Start encouraging our rural farmers to bank and use their landrice, heirloom seeds stocks once again and let’s develop drought and pest resistance through natural selection.
Then as a nation, we must invest in boreholes, solar and biogas for energy and organic fertilizer in our rural homes. Dependency on imported seeds that don’t reproduce is the death of a nation.
Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare.