By: Tinashe Bonde
Young people in farming have become the trending and buzzword in today’s social circles and media. Many are now venturing into agriculture and there are many untold stories in the industry: successes, failures, and lessons and in this article, we feature one of the trailblazing young ladies who has been making it big in this game. Growing up on a farm and with both parents as farmers, farming would probably have chosen her way earlier in life but she finally embarked on her own farming journey at the end of 2019. She started off big with her first project being sugar snap peas for export under an out-growers scheme, and greenhouse farming for the local market.
Rudo Chitapi is a 29-year-old agri-preneur founder of Natures Best Farm, Kaimbe Agri Solutions, and Natures Best Brand. Natures Best is an agri-business that specializes in horticulture and apiculture. They produce, package, and distribute quality fresh produce. Nature Best is also distributing Pure Honey to retail and hospitality outlets under their brand name ‘Natures Best’. Launching a business and running a brand is never easy but doable and they have been putting in a great amount of work to establish a name and some market share. Speaking on how they have managed to stay outstanding or compete in the seemingly flooded market, Rudo had this to say, “It’s important to be consistent, have a secured market, and reduce operational costs whenever possible. We also have net houses which allow us to produce out-of-season crops throughout the year. It is important to know your farm profit drivers as it assists in analyzing the ability of the business to withstand”.
With many now venturing into farming, few are often prepared enough for the industry and most seem to be entering blindly and at the end of the day, there are many regrets, failures, and losses. It is very important that farmers and wanna-be farmers are adequately prepared for the journey ahead. Do you know much about the crop that you want to grow, animals you want to rear? Have you done enough research? Have you done your market or competitor analysis? What’s the value chain like? Above all do you have or are willing to acquire adequate education and training on what you want to venture in? Rudo emphasized this when she said, “It is important for farmers to get training because farming is practical and a mixture of scientific fields. Farming is a business. It helps us maximize effectiveness”. Sharing on important lessons learned or regrets over the past two years in the game, Rudo echoed that, “It is important to do your adequate research before venturing into farming and that on regrets, there is no point of having regrets because we learn from our mistakes”.
When it comes to farming, there are a lot of opportunities out there and untapped markets and one such is the export market. With many seemingly looking local, I guess its is high time we start looking global and reposition Zimbabwe’s agriculture industry to its former glory. Some farmers particularly those in the horticultural sector have been making in-roads and tapping into that export market. Rudo speaking on the export market had this to share, “The market is lucrative, there is a demand of certain crops produced in Zimbabwe. Information on export markets can be readily found at ZIMTRADE.”
What’s your perception of farming? How do you view life on the farm? Do you think it is demanding, classy, easy, dirty, etc.? We all have varying perceptions and let’s hear from someone already in their game as she shares what her typical day is like. “My typical day starts early, as they say, Early bird catches the worm. We start with a touch base meeting with the team and move on to inspecting our fields before we can start with our daily operational activities. There is also the business side which includes recording keeping, analyzing market trends amongst other factors”, she shared.
Every business venture has to reward or rather the goal is to make a profit but it is not every time or it is not everyone who makes it. Rudo from her farming proceeds has managed to upgrade the infrastructure on the farm which includes the installation of fencing, drip irrigation, and shade-net greenhouses. Her business has been growing and she has also been going further down the agricultural value chain with her Nature Best Honey which is making inroads in the retail and hospitality sector. “Farming is profitable when taken as a business. Survey the market, pick the right crops and plan well in advance.”, she emphasized.
In the advice to other young farmers shared in the ZFU: Meet the Farmer post, she said that, “Do adequate research and have a well thought out plan. Be tenacious. Do not give up. Doing something new is brave and there will be doubts but always remember why you started in the first place”.
There has been some common talk that “Money Is In The Dirt” and indeed there is money in some of the seemingly dirty industries such as mining and agriculture. We will be bringing you more success stories in these industries and many others. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories, subscribe to our magazine, and never miss these.