Pioneering Zimbabwean Farmer Making Agriculture Attractive to Youth and Beneficial for Women
Ruramiso Mashumba, the founder of Mnandi Africa, advocates and teaches women about the gains that are possible in the agricultural sector through her initiative.
With nearly a decade of farming experience, the award-winning Zimbabwean farmer does not regret leaving the corporate world for farming. Having been exposed to farm life at an early age, Mashumba finds farming both a passion and a calling.
"My father bought a farm when I was 14 years old and I was moved to a school near the farm. The school was focused on teaching agriculture at the commercial level. It was my first introduction to commercial agriculture as all I knew was communal farming from my grandparents in the rural areas."
"My father purchased land but didn’t really have the capital to commercialize it as he was trying to raise his children in a difficult economy.”
“I started farming after I finished Uni in the UK and through my networks have been able to move the farm from subsistence to commercial operation as well as develop a training farm for women Agri entrepreneurs," she adds.
With a goal of ending hunger in Zimbabwe and ensuring equal opportunities for women in agriculture, Mashumba founded Mnandi Africa, an organization that empowers and equips rural women with agricultural skills, resources, and knowledge in order to combat poverty and malnutrition.
"I founded this organization in 2017 after the Mandela Washington fellowship where I met former President Barack Obama whose words were 'Americans can but advice we on the ground need to bring the change'" says Mashumba
Through Mashumba's initiative, Mnandi Africa's vision is to reduce hunger and poverty through sustainable farming methods, although the farm is currently not measuring its carbon emissions, she does hope to in the near future.
"We currently are solar-powered and we see the future relying more on green solutions in order to reduce carbon emissions associated with agriculture." she emphasizes.
When asked about the most effective actions needed to solve or reduce food insecurity, Mashumba believes: "We need to address access to finance for smallholder farmers, access to markets as well as lack of vital information."
In spite of the low youth-led agriculture rate in Africa, she is determined that young farmers in Zimbabwe will be drawn into agriculture. "Young farmers in Zimbabwe are very interested in agriculture."
Years of profiling and sharing success stories inspired many both young and old to farm. She believes they have a lot to offer in terms of technology and innovation in agriculture, and that this will attract bright minds.
As she continues enthusiastically, she says, "I’m excited by innovation being developed on a daily basis and definitely, the future is the adaptation of these ideas. Innovation is greatly needed in how to collect data in agriculture, share it, and solve challenges of financing, marketing, and the information gap".
As a woman in agriculture, she recalls one challenge: "When I started I found access to resources more difficult in comparison to men.” She is however positive there is a change in mindset and people are starting to think differently.
"It always starts with an idea. Go for it and you won’t regret it,” she advises young women. "I would like to conclude by applauding people involved in agriculture because of you we ate today.”