Ruramiso Mashumba’s farming business is thriving. Her Chomwedzi farm in Eastern Zimbabwe has seen a thirtyfold increase in seed maize production in the last five years thanks to the introduction of agricultural mechanisation.
An 82hp Massey Ferguson MF 4708 tractor and a range of implements are at the centre of the farm’s growth. They tackle the full range of jobs from cultivating and planting to fertilising and spraying, harvesting and hauling. “Mechanisation has made life easier, faster and we are producing higher yields. A real transformation has taken place,” says Ru.
Her success story is all the more inspiring given that, as the founder of the organisation, Mnandi Africa, she is also channelling her energy to encourage rural women to combat poverty through the acquisition of agricultural skills. A major objective is to assist them to access affordable and effective agro technology through an input sharing programme and the collective purchase and sale of goods and services.
The 650ha Chomwedzi Farm in Marondera lies 50km north-east of the capital Harare. Ru inherited the land from her father in 2012 when it was purely a livestock concern. At that time, the farm was just bush with no equipment or infrastructure.
After completing a degree in Agricultural Business Management at the UK’s University of West England and working for an agricultural machinery company, Ru returned to Zimbabwe, convinced of the potential for equipment and technology to transform agriculture.
Massey Ferguson’s parent company, AGCO heard about her work with Mnandi Africa and invited her to speak at its Africa Summit in Berlin in 2015. In recognition of her achievements, she was awarded a Massey Ferguson tractor together with a plough and ripper by the company’s Chairman, President and CEO, Martin Richenhagen.
Chomwedzi Farm exemplifies the capability for machinery to make a real difference.
“We originally started by planting 1 ha of maize in 2013, then 3ha the following season, 20 ha in 2016 and now 30ha,” Ru explains. “Before the arrival of the MF tractor, we used manual labour or had to hire in equipment when needed. That meant waiting until others had finished with it so I was always late. Now we’re able to till the land in a timely manner. Having our own tractor has made a huge difference.”
“We’ve also bought a planter. Previously, we planted by hand which wasted a lot of time and resources, and was very inaccurate. Now we are able to populate the plants virtually 100%,” she says. “The combination of tractor and implements means we can tackle much larger pieces of land, produce more crops and generate more income.”
“The MF tractor is very easy to use, not at all complicated,” Ru continues. “There’s no downtime with it and it’s a very robust machine – the strongest thing on the farm! The tractor is extremely versatile and can work in all kinds of conditions including our wetland area and negotiating its way across the river. It’s easy to service and we get good support from the local MF dealer, Farmec.”
“Our MF 4708 is really amazing. We use it every day to do everything,” she sums up.
“Mechanisation has made life easier, faster and we are producing higher yields. A real transformation has taken place.”
“The combination of tractor and implements means we can tackle much larger pieces of land, produce more crops and generate more income.”