Inspired by her late father who was an Agritex officer, a female farmer, Ms Talita Matutu left her job as a maid in South Africa to venture into a successful horticulture project at her plot in Rangemore in Umguza District.
Ms Matutu represents a crop of female farmers who are defining the success story of farming, thereby contributing significantly to food security for the nation as they continue to rise fast to levels unparalleled by their male counterparts.
In the last two months, Ms Matutu (58) has been busy harvesting tomatoes of the conventional Rodade variety and has so far realised US$1 500 from sales.
Rodade is an adaptable open pollinated, determinate salad tomato. The plants grow to a bush with a height in the region of 100cm.
The tomatoes have a globe shape, uniform in size and weight around 100 – 150g. The yield potential of Rodade is high for an open pollinated variety.
This month, Ms Matutu has started harvesting Tengeru tomatoes, a high-yielding strong plant with very good yields. The tomatoes are firm round to oblate and weigh between 100-125g with a two weeks’ shelf life.
A single mother of four, Ms Matutu said through farming, she is able to sustain her family and pay fees for her children including their children.
One of her children has since completed her studies at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) through her mother’s farming business.
Ms Matutu has also inspired her children to venture into agriculture-related business. Her youngest daughter, a water resources engineering student at the Bulawayo Polytechnic, is following in her footsteps.
Ms Matutu worked in South Africa as a house maid from 2003 until 2009 when she decided to return home to venture into farming.
Since venturing into full-time farming a few years ago, Ms Matutu has never looked back as her horticulture project is paying dividends.
She specialises in growing tomatoes, garlic, cabbages, vegetables and butternuts at her 5-hectare piece of land. She has presently planted garlic and 5 000 cabbages and she expects to harvest both crops in September.
Ms Matutu said she harvests after every three months and supplies local supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets in Bulawayo and individuals. “I inherited this piece of land from my late parents and since I started venturing into full-time farming a few years ago, I have not looked back. I grow tomatoes, garlic, cabbages, vegetables and butternuts, which I then take to the local market,” said Ms Matutu.
“I grew up in a family that literally ate, drank and deamt farming and that is precisely how I developed the interest in farming. I am actually following in my father’s footsteps and he is the one who inspired me.. By virtue of having been an Agritex officer, my father loved farming so much.”
Ms Matutu said she decided to take farming seriously following the death of her parents in 2008 and 2011 respectively
“When I started, I only utilised a small portion in such a vast piece of land growing several varieties of crops. In 2019, It dawned on me that farming is big business and that is when I decided to take farming seriously by expanding the hectarage,” she said.
“Through various training programmes and the encouragement from our local Agritex officer, I have moved to this level of farming, which I am today proud of.”
Ms Matutu relies on an electricity powered engine to pump water from the borehole to the fields. However, due to the vandalism of a Zesa power transformer by thieves, she has in the last two months been relying on a generator to pump water.
“When it comes to farming, as long as you have focus and passion you won’t go wrong. I have a grandson who is doing Form Four at a boarding school and I have been paying his fees through farming,” she said. Ms Matutu said some of the crops were affected by frost.
Ms Matutu said once she secures funds, she intends to drill more boreholes and introduce drip irrigation, which will help conserve water and electricity as well as improve the quality of her produce.
She also intends to buy solar powered pumps to minimise disruption on her farming activities given that they rely on electricity to power the pump.
Ms Matutu is also a member of the Umguza Horticulture Consortium (UHC), which she chairs.
She said through farming, she hopes to contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.
Zimbabwe is an agrarian economy with most of the country’s sectors being directly and indirectly linked to the agricultural sub-sector.
Government is targeting transformation of rural and urban economies through enhancement of food, nutrition, markets, and jobs using value chains, including the horticulture sector, as a means of achieving a prosperous, inclusive, diverse, sustainable and competitive agriculture sector.- State Media