By Tafadzwa Muranganwa.
HE lost both of his parents at a tender age.
During primary and secondary education, he was among the best students. He did pass his O ‘levels at Hartzell High School in Old Mutare and could not proceed to A level where, due to financial constraints, he dropped out.
Her grandmother, who is a retired teacher, could not afford to pay for his fees.
The orphaned young man saw his dreams and aspirations go up in smoke, as he wanted to be an engineer.
When the diamond craze hit Manicaland, he also tried his luck in the illegal activity where some even lost their lives. However, life did not change for the orphaned young man, and going to the city was not an option given the few qualifications he possessed.
According to Bright Nezomba (28), who is now a successful small-scale banana farmer, it was only after this torrid time that he looked around and realised that the small farming land on his grandmother’s homestead and the irrigation they had could change his fortunes for the better.
Farming is an arduous activity, which many youths would despise but Bright had to shrug off that to eke out a living since he has now assumed the role of taking care of his elderly grandmother.
After coming from Chiadzwa (diamond fields) in Marange and having failed to sustain myself with proceeds from the illegal activity, it was just about time I felt I needed to look up for other opportunities within my vicinity which could change my life and that of my grandma for better, said Nezomba.
He has 1,5 hectares of land with banana production chewing 0,7 hectares and the rest is for subsistence maize farming .
Banana farming has always been rife in Honde Valley, and many of the farmers do sell the produce within their areas, while some do travel to cities like Mutare and Harare but do encounter a lot of problems, including transportation and at some occasions making the business not so profitable, so for Bright Nezomba, it was not going to be an easy way out of poverty.
GLIMMER OF HOPE
The coming in of Matanuska, a leading banana export company, was a big leap for the small scale banana farmers from Mupangwa Irrigation Scheme where Bright Nezomba is a beneficiary. The contract banana farming has enabled them to have an assured market , improved extension services and many more other benefits that have enabled many to change their lives.
Nezomba was able to fund for himself a colourful white wedding with his sweetheart Rebecca, a primary school teacher by profession.
I owe big time to Matanuska for making great strides in enhancing our banana farming, and through them, we have managed to make more money , narrated a smiling Nezomba.
On a lighter note, the proud father of one said during courtship with his wife, he did not tell her that he was a farmer since he thought the then student teacher would find new love.
You know, I was reluctant at first to say that I was a farmer because it’s a career that many look down upon, but when I later told her about it, she accepted and I even sponsored her teacher -training fees from the banana farming proceeds,â€ said Nezomba with a chuckle.
He has also managed to spruce up his homestead by renovating his grandmother’s house to a modest shelter . The orphaned young farmer is now also providing employment to surrounding families who came and tend his banana fields.
I am very proud of myself that I have managed to smart away from poverty, and on top of that, I have also managed to create work for other families around me, asserted the young farmer.
Just like any career, banana farming has its own fair share of challenges as well, according to Bright.
He says as small scale banana famers, they grapple with inadequate funding and climate change challenges.
As banana farmers we are not spared from the current economic situation, as we don’t have enough lines of credit that can spur our business to dizzy heights.
Climate change is another challenge that we are facing as we sorely depend on gravitational irrigation which depend on river flow and we thank God that this year the rains were better, and there is enough to take us through to next year.
It is in his vision that he goes into value-addition, and that will mean more money for him. To hone his skills in this farming career, Bright has decided to take up Agro business at Kushinga Phikelela Agriculture College.
It is my wish that we acquire skills to value-add our produce so we increase our income .
Though it was a sheer accident that I got into farming, I have realised its potential, so I decided to take up a course in agriculture to sharpen my expertise.
Not only has Bright, who is also the chairman of Mupangwa Irrigation Scheme, managed to accrue material possessions that have made him the envy of many youths in Honde Valley and the whole country, but it is even the way he has travelled across Africa and abroad to share his experiences as a young farmer.
I have attended local , regional and international events to learn and share my knowledge on farming with other young farmers and youths in general ,â€quipped Nezomba, who is also a member of the Young Farmers Club, a project of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union.
One such young person who was inspired by Bright Nezomba and other young farmers is Dominic Machingura who had an accounting background but has since turned into a full-fledged horticultural farmer.
I attended the inaugural Zimbabwe Youth Agriprenuership Summit in 2014 where I met the likes of Bright sharing their experiences as young farmers, and I just fell instantly in love with farming as a form of employment, and I am not looking back since I started, said Machingura.
In Brighton Nezomba’s home area, some youths have also joined in the â€˜back-breaking career.
No more Admire Chirinda , a university graduate with a Bachelor in Accounting is now into a thriving tomato farming.
It seems many people have now realised that it is rather worthwhile to venture into farming than continue to look up for prestigious professions when there is so much unemployment in this country said Nezomba.
Bright’s story is inspirational, given that most of the youths in this country are reeling from unemployment, while some have resorted to doing menial jobs and vending in some cases despite having professional qualifications. The government youth fund has not empowered many, with reports indicating gross abuse of the fund while beneficiaries have received it through partisan lines and corruption.
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