FAO Regional Office for Africa

Those who can, teach

Young farmer Ruramiso Mashumba is spearheading change in Zimbabwe

Ruramiso is somewhat of a rarity in Zimbabwe: she’s young, female and a farm owner.

“Very few women actually own land,” she says. “Even though agriculture is so rewarding and there are lots of opportunities to develop the sector in Zimbabwe.”

One thing she wants to pass on to farmers in the region is her knowledge of Conservation Agriculture (CA): a sustainable way of farming that makes irrigation systems more efficient and minimises soil disturbance.

“I’m really keen to share my ideas with others and encourage knowledge transfer: I think these kinds of exchanges are incredibly important.”

As part of this approach she trains women in numerous CA techniques, including the use of ground cover and crop rotation to prevent the build-up of weeds.

“I believe the future of agriculture lays in the hands of those that are given custody of the land and are responsible for treating it in a way that future generations will benefit from,” she says.

When it comes to COVID-19, she says the pandemic has exposed a lot of vulnerabilities in rural communities. She thinks that these hard times have made people view essential workers differently.

“All of a sudden people realise that food doesn’t just appear in shops: so many work tirelessly to make that food available.” 

According to Ruramiso, the current situation has also exposed Zimbabwe’s need for investment, within agriculture and more generally.

She says that food systems in Zimbabwe are also lagging behind owing to of lack of technology and mechanisation. Support is needed for the adoption of such technologies, and she hopes that in the next five years Southern African agriculture will see a rise in investments.

Ruramiso isn’t afraid to admit that she aims to be at the forefront of change in her country, particularly when it comes to helping women and youth in agriculture. “My hope is for a brighter tomorrow,” she says.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is working to strengthen partnerships in Southern Africa – between multiple agencies, NGOs, governments, international research organisations and the private sector – to promote the adoption of Conservation Agriculture and ultimately help farmers become more resilient.


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