Agriculture could be the real mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy if properly managed to sustain itself, the farmer and most importantly the nation.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This management comes in the form of having adequate and requisite knowledge of farming.
A few black farmers in Zimbabwe have managed to maintain farms they took or boughgt from the whites. This only means that most of the black farmers left these farms idle due to poor management.
Established early this year, Willgrow Consultancy is a company to fill in the knowledge gap so that farmers get the best from the Zimbabwean land.
Driven by patriotism to see his fellow countrymen make the best use of the land they have, Wilbert Mutezo and his team are bent on seeing Zimbabweans rewrite the tainted image of blacks being bad farmers.
“Since the advent of the land reform, farmers have been support by the government with inputs several times but most of them are still poor. Farmers need technical assistance on their production practices. Having worked in agric industry for long in contract farming schemes, i realised how easily one can be groomed from rags to riches in a few years,” said Mutezo in an interview with Agrinews. “There was a dire need for a productive and effective solution provider in the industry.”
Did you know that over 10 million families in Zimbabwe are directly involved with farming whereas more than 80% of them at subsistence level, using traditional methods of farming?
What chokes the local agricultural production in Zimbabwe seeing it fail reaching maximum potential is lack of knowledge on modern trendy practices.
With this want, farmers have experienced low production coupled alongside high production costs and compromised quality and quantity of output agricultural products.
“Mutezo laid the foundation of Jdwilgrow- a one-stop shop for horticulture, agribusiness, field crop production and related agriculture value-added solutions in 2018. The company has a wide range of products and solutions to cater almost all needs of small scale and commercial farmers in Zimbabwe and beyond,” reads the company profile.
The company yearns to, “become a reliable service & solution provider to our partners in agriculture sector and the total value chain.”
Further more, Willgrow desires to be a reliable agro consultancy firm bringing convenience to farmers.
“Its our wish as Willgrow to be a reliable farming consultancy partner for every struggling farmer in Zimbabwe. No matter how small or big. Provide knowledge to transform the farming experience of those who own land. We also wish to be the link between financing institutions and the farmer. To reduce the risk of lending for funders as well as making farmers a reliable source of investment,” Mutezo said. “We also wish to utilise the power of precision farming tools to enhance farming profits and reducing production costs.”
Willgrow’s mission is to ensure converted value adding to farmers, value chain, processors and consumers on agriculture produce by providing reliable services and solutions.
Mutezo gave Agrinews a snapshot of what they do at Willgrow.
“First I do a farm evaluation which highlights areas which need improvement. After that I provide technical agronomic advice. Farm production planning. Farm management training. Developing Crop production calendars. Shaping the vision of the farm with the owner. Improve on farm systems and record keeping and monitoring,” he said.
As a lot of farmers usually decry lack of funding, they forget the endless possibilities of making the most out of the little they have. How? Through bridging the knowledge gap.
“Most farmers always shift blame to lack of funding. They do not take consultations as an option to their predicament. Greatest challenge is when a fee is mentioned farmers turn their back away. Agrochemical companies and fertilizer companies provide agronomic advice for free on radios and different media platforms. However, when it comes to being on the ground and offering real time solutions, they might not be available,” said Mutezo.
Mutezo’s partners in this venture namely Skhanyiso Mhaka, Gabriel Nkomo, Admire Shaynewako and Robert Mangani are pursuing their PhDs in South Africa.
Mutezo holds Bsc Hons in Agriculture University of Zimbabwe; Msc Crop Production Africa University and Mcom Strategic Management and Corporate governance Midlands State University. He is also working on getting the a PhD this year. He has a wealth of experience spanning over 13 years working in the agriculture industry.
Mutezo also managed 250ha mixed farming activities and became major horticultural produce supplier in Manicaland 2007-2012. He managed the horticulture section for GoCongo and reduced irrigation costs for the farm by 30%. Through his efforts, GoCongo attained a 80% market share in Lumbumbashi for horticulture produce in 2012-2013. As a tried, tested and dedicated agronomist, Mutezo help increase loan recovery from 86% to 98.9% for Tianze tobacco which earned him Worker of the year award in 2015.