Female farmer with disability defies odds

The Chronicle

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief

A GWERU woman with disability has defied the odds after turning her 10-hectare farm into a horticulture paradise, proving that the successful land reform programme is transforming the lives of many people across the country.

Former Senator, Mrs Anna Shiri (50), who is famed for advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, has become the envy of many, after she has turned every inch of her farm into a viable business entity.

The former legislator got a 10ha farm in Umsungwe Block just outside Gweru where she is doing mixed agriculture.

Mrs Shiri has goats, pigs, chicken and cattle and employs three locals. She has even constructed accommodation for her employees at the farm and from the Government in 2014, and has not looked back since then.

Through the Government sponsored climate proof Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, Mrs Shiri is looking forward to a minimum of seven tonnes of maize per hectare.

She is also expecting a minimum of 80 tonnes of potatoes from the 2 hectares she planted this summer cropping season.

Mrs Shiri said the road to being a successful farmer hasn’t been that rosy.

“It was a bit difficult when we came here. It was all a bushy area. We had to hire people in and around Gweru to come and provide the much-needed labour in clearing all this land. Now you can see that there are structures from my house, workers’ accommodation, pig sty, kraals and the fields — which are all proceeds of hard work,” she said.

Mrs Shiri said Government schemes such as the Pfumvudza/ Intwasa have also come in handy assisting her growth each year.

“They all say musha mukadzi/umuzi ngumama (home is made by a woman) and as such I want to encourage other women across the country to identify one of their talents and pursue it.

‘We all have different talents and once you have identified it, please pursue it as we all work towards improving the socio-economic status of our great Zimbabwe. Nothing should stand in our way in whatever we do because we have support through different Government ministries,” she said.

Mrs Shiri who also diversified into animal husbandry with thriving piggery and goat projects, underscored the importance of self-sustenance as opposed to living on handouts.

“Sometime people tend to look at their conditions and think that they can’t manoeuvre in this challenging world. We need to stand up as women, as people with disabilities and say to ourselves this is our time. I want to thank President Mnangagwa for recognising us because right now we have people who are currently benefitting from the land reform programme.

“Let us do wonders and show gratitude to our President through excelling in agriculture and other Government driven socio-economic changing programmes,” she said.

Mrs Shiri said she is a beneficiary of the Government sponsored climate proof Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme.

“I did four hectares of maize and I am looking forward to a minimum of seven tonnes of maize per hectare. I am also expecting a minimum of 80 tonnes of potatoes from the two hectares planted this summer cropping season. We have a piggery project, we have cattle and goats as well as we look into diversifying so that we don’t put eggs in one basket,” she said.

From training as a teacher at Mkoba Teachers College in 1996, to becoming a teacher at Shabanie Mines Primary School in Zvishavane.

She is the former Senator representing persons with disabilities in the Zimbabwean Senate.

Currently, Mrs Shiri said she is serving as the president of the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe and has steered the organisation to great success under her leadership.

“I am a proud mother of two and a successful married farmer with a keen eye on changing the lives of persons with disabilities in the country and most importantly women and youth with disabilities. I have helped many women and youth in developing and running self-help projects because I take pride in seeing persons with disabilities emancipated, living their dreams and achieving their visions,” he said.

Last year, President Mnangagwa launched the National Disability Policy with a view to ensure people with disabilities are not left out in the national development agenda.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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