YOUTHS in farming have been urged to shift their mindsets from subsistence to commercial farming.
In a keynote address at the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) Young Farmers’ Day summit in Bulawayo yesterday, the association’s president Abdul Nyathi said it was imperative that young and start-up farmers acquire necessary skills required to run successful business enterprises.
“Most of our young farmers and indeed all farmers in general find themselves trapped in a deep-seated failure to transform their farming activities into profit spinning enterprises,” said Nyathi.
He identified lack of organisation as the biggest challenge hindering progress in agriculture.
“The perception is that young and adult farmers stand alone and it is very true because we are not organised,” Nyathi said.
“We should stop defining you as young or growing, but as incoming farmers because people do not live forever and we should accept that we are outgoing.
“That will make us want to assist you. That way, the perception that you are our competitors will stop and the only way to achieve that is through increased organisation.”
Nyathi said most problems such as lack of capital, transport and low market penetration could be solved.
“For example, you complain that some products have unsustainable prices on the market, but that is because you do not communicate and end up farming the same crops which then flood the market, losing value in the process. If you all consulted and reported to the union, we would have those statistics and could advise accordingly,” he said.
ZFU executive director Paul Zakariya concurred with Nyathi that the only way to counter challenges was to approach them from a local level and thus ensure organisation.
“People have been crying about funding and the truth is that even banks do not have the capacity to offer agricultural loans,” he said.
“The only way out is therefore to sit down and assess your situation in order to make sound business decisions.
“We should be able to look at our capacity in terms of inputs and if we cannot support huge projects, start small and keep on reinvesting to grow our farming projects. Crying for assistance and loans will not get us anywhere.”
ZFU youth co-ordinator Newton Chari said the summit was a follow-up to the national summit held in Harare earlier this year.
“There were no participants from Matabeleland at the national event and we decided to hold another summit to ensure the concerns of the whole nation are picked up,” he said.
“Generally, challenges are the same, but as the lobby and advocacy wing of the union, we always want to do things from an informed point; that is why we are here.”