Engineer quits, goes farming

The Chronicle

Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
WHEN he got a 50 hectare farm in 2016, Mr Charles Knight had to hire donkeys in order to plant his first crop.

He recalls how it would take close to a month to plough using donkeys.

An engineer who worked for a multinational company, Mr Knight was motivated to invest in farming, a move which saw him spending a whopping US$70 000 on mechanisation.

Fast forward to 2022, he is now a proud owner of a tractor, its trailer, two planters and a bulldozer.

The proud farmer also managed to draw water from Sebakwe River which is 4,5 kilometres away for the purposes of his irrigation system.

Being an engineer, he used his expertise to do the sprinkler irrigation system connections on his own.

This was after he discovered that it was not possible to deliver water to the whole farm after drilling a borehole.

Using his bulldozer, Mr Knight has managed to clear 29 hectares which he now uses for farming purposes.

Mr Charles Knight at his farm

During the 2021 winter season, he put all the 29 hectares under wheat and during the 2021 season, he put 21 hectares under maize and eight hectares under soya beans.

He is targeting to get at least 150 tonnes of maize and 90 tonnes of soya beans.

With the dry spell having caught farmers unawares as a result of climate change, Mr Knight said had he not invested in mechanisation, he could be watching his crop die.

The farmer is therefore proud that his decision to invest in mechanisation is now paying off.

“After being disappointed with the donkey debacle, I was motivated to purchase my own equipment. I thank God I managed to buy my own tractor and planters which I use for farming purposes.

“The decision is paying off now as you can see, rains are almost gone and we are now irrigating,” he narrated.

The farmer said in the long run, he wishes to buy pivots instead of sprayers which are laborious.

“These sprays are laborious as we have to change the position from time to time as compared to the pivot which rotates on its own. Besides, we tend to destroy some crops in the process of changing the positions,” he explained.

The equipment is now being underutilised as the land has become too small for the equipment he has.

“The tractor is designed to do more than we are using it for. This is mainly because we don’t have enough land to use the equipment. We have the capacity to do more but we do not have the land.

“If the Government can give us more land, we can certainly do better than what we are currently doing,” he said.

Mr Knight employs six people who assist him in his farming venture which also include cattle farming, goat rearing and poultry.

“We started off with only 15 cattle three years ago and now we have 47 cattle. The limiting factor is grazing land again and we have to rely on cattle fattening as they do not have enough pastures,” he said.

“I just started the poultry project and I have plans to make it a big one. We have quite a considerable number of chickens and I am considering going full sale.”

Now that he has quit his engineering profession to pursue farming, Mr Knight devotes most of his time at the farm while his eldest son Kelvin, will be spearheading the family’s mining activities.

His wife Chipo, who is a teacher at a local private college, is also considering concentrating on farming.

“I used to take it as something laborious but now I am actually enjoying it. Very soon I will be leaving the teaching profession to be assisting my husband at the farm. This is a serious business which I didn’t know that it pays like that,” she said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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