The Sunday Mail
IN a world where many people yearn for the comforts of city life, one man chose to take a different path.
He left behind his plush upmarket home in Borrowdale to settle at his Devonia Farm, close to Juru Growth Point, Mashonaland East province, where he is concentrating on farming.
Mr Herbert Shumbamhini’s decision to leave the cosiness of his mansion for the rustic life on a farm surprised many of his relatives and associates, who were used to seeing him in a suit and tie.
But for him, it was a simple choice.
He wanted to live a simpler life, closer to nature and, more importantly, contribute to national food production.
“One of the boldest decisions that I have so far made in my life was to move away from my comfortable Borrowdale home and settle on the farm,” said Mr Shumbamhini.
“Farming needs a hands-on approach and I am glad to say that I am beginning to enjoy some of the benefits that come with staying on the farm.
“As a politician and former Member of Parliament for Mutoko South, I was always away from the farm.
“As a result, production suffered a lot.
“If I had always been around, I am sure I would have been somewhere by now.”
It was after some soul-searching that Mr Shumbamhini finally decided to make the adjustment of leaving the bright lights of Harare and settle on his farm.
Today, he is one of the best wheat farmers in his district.
This winter season, he put 60 hectares under the crop.
He is expecting to harvest an average yield of six tonnes per hectare, translating to a total of 360 tonnes.
Despite realising such a massive haul, he remains unsatisfied. He believes he can achieve more.
“In the past few years, I have been producing, on average, about six tonnes of wheat per hectare,” said the 45-year-old farmer.
“In my view, this is not an impressive yield. I need to pull up my socks and produce better yields.”
He has since set for himself an ambitious production target for the forthcoming seasons.
“Starting with this year’s summer cropping, my target is to realise harvests of about 10 tonnes per hectare. This is achievable and to me, failure is not an option,” vowed Mr Shumbamhini.
Apart from wheat, he also cultivated about 75 000 heads of cabbage.
He also has six hectares under potatoes.
A keen livestock farmer, Mr Shumbamhini boasts a herd of 100 cattle, the majority of which are high-quality breeds.
During the 2022 summer cropping season, the former legislator put 40 hectares under seed maize. His farming enterprise is also highly mechanised.It boasts five tractors, boom sprayers, cultivators, disc harrows, planters and other high-tech farming implements.
For many, Mr Shumbamhini is a shining example of a farmer who invests his profits in farm mechanisation
“I make it a point that after every harvest, I must buy one or two major farming implements,” he continued.
“I am one of those farmers who have taken up tractors that were recently imported from Belarus.”
He urged farmers to plough their profits back into their operations.
“Some farmers go on impulsive shopping sprees after selling their produce.
“Some even marry second wives or get mistresses. This is bad for business.
“Farmers must have financial discipline.”
He urged farmers to support the country’s efforts to mechanise agriculture.
Zimbabwe has been angling for maximum agricultural production, with President Mnangagwa emphasising the need for agricultural mechanisation. Mr Shumbamhini, who employs 26 full-time workers, bemoaned load shedding, which he said contributed to farmers’ failure to meet targets.
“Look at my crop. It is in the grain-filling stage, which demands a lot of water.
“In the past weeks, electricity supplies have been erratic and this will surely contribute to low yields.”
He also urged banks to provide affordable loans to farmers and for Government to introduce input subsidies.
Agriculture is the main pillar of Zimbabwe’s economy and is regarded as the prime mover of the Second Republic’s vision of making the country an upper middle-income economy by 2030. Last year, Zimbabwe recorded its highest wheat harvest since production of the cereal started in 1966.
Zimbabwe recorded a wheat haul of 375 000 tonnes from the 80 883 hectares put under the crop. About 360 000 tonnes of wheat are required for national consumption annually.
Mr Shumbamhini, through Devonia Farm, is one of those farmers who are itching to significantly contribute towards the country’s goal of food self-sufficiency.