By Samson Tarusenga
Ngoni Bande, a former general farm worker from Chivhunze area in Chipinge district of Zimbabwe, is writing his success story through growing coffee.
His narrative has its beginnings in 2010 when he saw huge potential in the land that was being rejected by many for its hilly and sloppy nature.
He accepted the offer when the opportunity came his way and was allocated the rejected portion of land. He has since defied all the odds and cleared the land before working on properly thought out soil and water conservation infrastructure that includes terraces and grassed contours (Vetiver).
The farm now features a nice-looking coffee plantation.
What makes the farmers’ story more thrilling is that he collected the first planting materials (coffee seedlings) from a nearby jungle to plant over 500 bushes. He had no money to start with as he was previously a poor farm worker.
Through support from friends he later managed to get better coffee seed to plant from 2013. From 2015 to this day, the farmer is realising good earnings from coffee sales which have enabled him to upgrade his life.
The sales has managed to cater for daily family needs, an irrigation pipeline for his coffee field which stretches for about 2.2km, construction of toilets and a brick-walled iron-sheets-roofed kitchen.
Although he is still confronted by some challenges in the form of exorbitant input costs, vandalism of irrigation pipes and lower than wished foreign currency retention component from export coffee sales, Mr Bande is not deterred.
He has managed to produce Class 2 coffee due to good management of the good quality variety (SL28), that he grows.
Another exciting development in the story of Mr Bande is that he has empowered his wife and eldest son by allocating them each a piece of land to plant their own coffee to cater for personal needs.
Through experience he has learnt that for the sustainability of his farming business every family member working on the farm should enjoy the benefits from farming including women and children. This is not common in a patriarchal society such as Chipinge.
Zimbabwe has a milling capacity of over 50 000 metric tonnes of coffee, but supply is still way below the demand. This gives many other farmers the opportunity to grow coffee and improve their livelihoods like Mr Bande.
The country boasts of a suitable climate, skilled labour, organised coffee farmers, idle coffee production and processing infrastructure and a well-developed value chain linked to numerous local and international markets.
Currently NESPRESSO is buying Zimbabwean smallholder coffee at an average price of USD6.50/kg which has generated extremely high demand for coffee planting materials and establishment of new coffee plantations.
Tarusenga Samson is a coffee researcher and writes in his own capacity. For comments, contact him on email: email@example.com