|‘Golden future time’ already here|
|Sunday, 25 August 2013 00:00|
Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland
Beasts of every land and clime
Tyrant men shall be overthrown
This verse, an animal anthem taken off George Orwell’s allegorical novel, Animal Farm, is synonymous with the history of Zimbabwe’s land struggle and the successful land reform exercise that followed thereafter.
At the peak of colonialism, the white settlers invaded and parcelled out among themselves the best land available where rainfall was plenty and the land was blessed with fertile soils.
The indigenous black people, who constituted the majority of the populace, were heartlessly driven out of the land of their forefathers to barren and drought-prone areas.
The Eastern Highlands, and Chipinge in particular, are some of the most scenic and cool places in the country.
For the better part of the year, Chipinge and other parts of the Eastern Highlands are always silhouetted in moist and light drizzle, giving birth to a healthy, cool climate.
The economic gains from the agricultural activities and the favourable weather reminded the colonialists of their homeland.
One of the people who waited patiently for the day when the productive land was going to be returned to the black majority was Dr Win Mlambo of Wintrend Farm in Chipinge.
“When the land resettlement exercise began in 2000, I was on Government duty in the United Kingdom. I immediately rushed back and was allocated this piece of land. I was aware of the potential that this region had and I made sure that I was allocated my piece of land.
“Besides the massive farming and processing project that is worth millions of dollars, my family enjoys the healthy, cool weather. Everything is fresh here — the air, water and farm produce,” he said.
Unlike other farmers, who concentrate on such “traditional” crops as maize, tobacco and cotton, among others, Dr Mlambo took a different path.
With a 180-hectare plantation of macadamia, he is one of the biggest producers of macadamia products in the country.
Known as the “golden nut”, close to 28 products can be processed from the nut, among them cooking oil, roasted nuts, butter and cake.
From the 180 hectares, the farmer harvests about 600 tonnes. With a tonne of processed macadamia nuts going for as much as US$2 000, macadamia farming and processing is without doubt one of the most lucrative enterprises in the country.
It is no wonder that the computer and communications guru abandoned the supposed comforts of London and any other city to permanently settle at the farm.
After harvesting, the nuts are dried and then the hard outer layer is cracked using a machine.
Employing close to 200 workers, the farmer has diversified into saw milling and furniture manufacturing.
“Macadamia nuts are seasonal and we decided to diversify into saw milling and furniture manufacturing. We have an 80-hectare gum plantation and it is from this plantation that we get our raw materials,” he said.
Apart from the saw-milling and furniture plant, the farmer also commercially rears pigs and chicken and is in the process of embarking on a coffee-processing plant.
“Industries must not be confined to Harare alone. Instead, we must have food-processing plants, fruit canning and juice-extracting industries here in Chipinge,” Dr Mlambo, who is the incoming Member of the House of Assembly for Chipinge East, said.
“Were it not for the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme, I might probably have been managing someone else’s enterprise somewhere. The programme changed my life and also the lives of the families whose livelihoods depend on this enterprise,” he said.
“Farmers the world over are assisted by their governments. It is a worldwide trend. However, those who abuse inputs must be arrested and severely punished.