The Sunday Mail
Rural areas have not been left out in Zimbabwe’s development thrust with the economy warming up to the potential resident in these areas. One practice gaining currency is ginger and garlic production that has seen farmers earning thousands of United States dollars. Sunday Mail Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo (VR) visited one such woman in Buhera, Mrs Christine Taranhike (CT) who has become one of the major ginger and garlic growers under the Traditional Grains Producers Association’s Initiative. This has transformed her plot in Buhera into a foreign currency spinning venture that has begun to benefit many households in her community. She speaks of her highly inspirational journey.
VR: Let’s start with you telling us about yourself. Who is Mrs Taranhike?
CT: I am Christina Taranhike, married to Dr Daud Taranhike. Having spent over two decades working in the hospitality and tourism sector, I decided to join my husband inthe public transport business. Drawing on my previous experience, I raised the quality of customer service and brought different innovations that saw the brand growing and becoming a force to reckon with in transport sector. I was the only female member in this male dominated market and I managed to give the business the place of pride.
VR: How did you venture into farming?
CT: Farming has always been my passion as I grew up working and learning from my father who taught me many techniques and marketing skills. I am a hands-on farmer who enjoys trying different things to meet demand and to ensure that my family is self-sufficient. I am grounded in the soil and I believe in the abundant potential that resides in our God-given nature. I strongly believe in collaborating with others and trying new ways of improving productivity and providing homegrown solutions to issues of hunger and food sufficiency instead of waiting for handouts from donors and well-wishers.
VR: You have become one of the most successful ginger and garlic farmers, when did you start growing the crop?
CT: Ginger and garlic have not been grown in rural communities especially in Buhera, hence three years ago I start growing them at a small-scale and studying how best to produce good quality products.
VR: How profitable has this venture been?
CT: Over the years, I have increased growing of the high value crops such as ginger, garlic, chillies and turmeric and the return from this venture has been great. It’s a US-dollar venture for every dollar invested the return is US$25. This project has transformed my life and is profiting the community in a big way especially the youth and the women who now can generate income and enhance their livelihoods. This year, our ginger crop which we have just harvested in probably the best crop grown in open space and of high export quality.
VR: What impact have your operations had on your community?
I have been spearheading the “Mai Chimuti” brand which represents the marginalised rural woman who has the enormous burden of looking after her family. I have realised that there’s many things that the rural people can do within their communities and transform their lives for the better.
Here at our Integral Kumusha, we have many projects such as growing traditional crops, the high value crops, poultry, processing and packaging our products, production of our own organic manure, beekeeping, growing of fruit trees such as citrus trees, mangoes, apples, etc. There are tremendous opportunities for creating value and creating wealth, employment and there creating a great legacy for future generations.
VR: You are putting up a big water system on your plot and I noticed a few other developments . . .
CT: In most cases, people in rural areas are productive for five months of the summer season and the rest of the year they are idle. In order to ensure production throughout the whole year, we require water. As such, we harvest rain water during the rainy season and underground water through boreholes. We have completed construction a 400 000-litre water tank to ensure we have adequate water throughout the year. We also harness solar energy to drive our different electrical appliances including our borehole pumps. Solar is renewable energy and it is clean thereby protecting our environment in order to reverse the negative effects of climate change and restore our ecological balance. Our Integral Kumusha is a home for Humanity and we strongly believe in preserving and conserving the environment by living in harmony with nature.
Our desire is to see rural communities transformed into vibrant economic communities and to achieve this goal, we are expanding our activities to include field schools, demonstrations and education and people in all socioeconomic aspects that hence our lives. To this end, we have plans to build a research academy and conference areas that will cater for local members, school children, college and university students and also visitors and tourists.
VR: You have accomplished much as a woman given what we have seen here and your dreams and aspirations. What are your thoughts about women’s empowerment?
CT: For me, women empowerment is no brainer! The adage is true, “you educate a woman, you educate the nation!”. Real and significant socioeconomic transformation of our communities and the national in general is hinged upon empowerment of women.
However, as women, we must take our place and responsibility for our growth and development. As “Mai Chimuti” we must take the initiative to develop and empower ourselves, then those who want to assist us will help us in those areas where we require help and not to be soon fed. We have a responsibility for our own development and lead in economic development of the national.
Generally, personally, I still feel there’s so much that we can do. The current situation in rural communities particularly for women need radical change towards self-sufficiency and prosperity.
VR: Your thoughts about rural development?
CT: The reason I have relocated to kumusha is to help shift the mindset that kumusha is for the poor and the uneducated. I am saying kumusha is where great and better life is experienced. My desire is to see urban rural migration taking place. For this to happen, we have a demonstrate that it can be done hence the reason I have embarked on this journey.
VR: What impact has the Traditional Grains Producers Association had in your business?
CT: This transformation journey needs many players working for the same cause. The Traditional Grain Producers Association is such partner who is critical in driving this change. Together we have formed a formidable team and we are creating a huge momentum and impact that is catching the attention of key stakeholders who will make this transformation process a reality. TGPA has offered leadership plus research/production/proceeding and marketing techniques .
VR: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
CT: As I envision the future, in the short term say, one year or so, we expect to see the rural communities being considered serious economic players and be given the prominence and the respect they deserve. In the medium to long term, we see rural communities because of the numbers, driving and influencing our economic development.
I envisaged a situation where Zimbabwe will have home grown solutions to the current socioeconomic and political problems. I see a new form of economy emerging that resonates with us as indigenous African people located within our traditional and cultural practices blend of course with exogenous knowledge and practices.
We are creating our own economic system that identifies with our origin and giving us dignity while creating legacy for future generations — Nhakanomics! The rest of Africa, the developing world and the entire global community will learn from our case. This process has started as “Mai Chimuti” and the Integral Kumusha approach are now collaborating with other global institutions such as the Home for Humanity International community.