Bongani Ndlovu recently in Tsholotsho
WHEN Mr Nyeyani Mudau (49) of Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North was in high school, his wish was to become
a farmer but ended up working as a qualified Electrical Engineer.
After setting up an electrical engineering company based in Tsholotsho, he quit that job in 2009 to venture into farming full time.
Since then he has been engaged in several agricultural projects and for the past two years, he has been planting cabbages on a two-hectare plot on the outskirts of the fledgling Tsholotsho business centre.
Taking farming as a business in Tsholotsho is good, he reckons.
Gone are the days when people would send cabbages from Bulawayo to rural Tsholotsho as they now buy from Mr Mudau and other local farmers.
Mr Mudau is one of the farmers around Tsholotsho business centre who have ventured into horticulture and he says it’s very lucrative.
Even after dealing in electronics for two decades, there was always the pull of farming.
Last Wednesday, in the sweltering Tsholotsho heat, Mr Mudau was at his plot, inspecting his 4 000 head of cabbage crop that is at various stages of maturity. Cabbages take 90 days to fully mature. Mr Mudau’s son Mickey (21) has joined his father on the plot and was busy spraying the cabbage seedlings during the Chronicle news crew’s visit.
On half of the plot, Mr Mudau last year planted maize.
He has a machine that grinds the maize stocks and turns it into stockfeed.
There, three men are working the machine and Mr Mudau said the feed is used for the family’s livestock in Nyamandlovu.
He said from high school he was always intrigued by farming after doing agriculture from primary school.
“At school, I was doing agriculture at Regina Mundi primary in Gwanda, the interest was there, but I had no capital. I was once a businessman dealing with electrical engineering but I had a passion for agriculture,” said Mr Mudau.
He said after high school at Hlangabeza in Nkayi, he then got a class two driver’s licence and was employed by the Ministry of Public Works in Tsholotsho.
Mr Mudau said he then studied at a college in Bulawayo for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering which he completed in 1998 before returning to Tsholotsho to set up his company: N and M Electrical Engineering.
Between the years 2005 and 2009, Mr Mudau was buying and selling amacimbi to raise capital that eventually enabled him to buy cattle for resale.
“With the proceeds of the business that I was running in Tsholotsho, I used to buy and sell cattle to butcheries such as Mbokodo. I injected something like R200 000 into this project with the hope of expanding it commercially,” said Mr Mudau.
He said he has been working on the plot since 2020.
Mr Mudau said it has not been easy as he has faced a lot challenges such as lack of machinery.
“Now I’m seeing the profits of this project but back then it was a struggle. Cabbages are attacked by a lot of pests and diseases and because of a lack of adequate research, it was adversely affecting my operations. At one time I planted 1 000 cabbages and then those that fully matured were about 20 meaning I had a huge loss. But as I was working the land, I was gaining more experience and improving and I want to mechanise in the future to become fully commercial,” he said.
Mr Mudau said Tsholotsho is a lucrative market for horticulture.
“Tsholotsho is our market and at times I’m overwhelmed by demand. I haven’t thought about delivering outside Tsholotsho because the demand here is very high. Like these 4 000 cabbages when they mature I know there will be a ready market for them. I sell the cabbage for US$1 and at the market here they sell it for R30,” said Mr Mudau.
He has come up with many ways to cut input costs such as producing his seedlings and natural fertilizer.
“Seedlings are very expensive and I have devised a way to come up with my own. Periodically I spray pesticides. These are some of the innovations that I came up with. In terms of the fertilizer, I can’t tell people how I produce it but what I can say is that I have greatly reduced my inputs costs,” said Mr Mudau.
In the future, Mr Mudau wants to expand into poultry farming and other horticultural crops.
“On these two hectares, we want to put drip irrigation and grow different vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, onions and the like. I’m also planning to venture into poultry, piggery and growing avocados. This is a long-term plan and I’m saving for that,” said Mr Mudau.
He said part of the challenges he is yet to overcome is the erratic power supply.
“My main concern here is erratic power supply as I need electricity for my borehole pump and the long term plan is to have a solar-powered pump,” said Mr Mudau.
Article Source: The Chronicle