WHILE most teachers are idle following the prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown, a Binga High School agriculture teacher has taken advantage of the long break from the classroom to grow vegetables for sale.
He started the project in May and now realises $24 000 a month from selling vegetables to local restaurants and non-governmental organisations among others.
Like the famous King Midas popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold, Mr Rameck Gwenhure (38), believes whatever he touches turns green and his massive vegetable project has become an envy of many at Binga Centre.
He has transformed his entire residential stand measuring 800 square metres into a nutrition vegetable garden. When he ventured into the project, his aim was to avoid boredom during the lockdown but later realised the project had the potential to completely change his life.
Mr Gwenhure, a graduate from Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), said he was allocated the stand by Binga Rural District Council in 2015, but for the past five years he has been struggling to raise money to build a house.
He said he has since started constructing his house with money he is realising from selling vegetables and was confident he will be able to complete the project in a short period of time given the money he is getting a month from the sales.
Mr Gwenhure supplies the local market and most of his customers are local restaurants, lodges, non-governmental organisations and Government departments.
He said he was realising an average of $24 000 per month and now employs three people who are assisting him.
“I am able to supply our local residents with fresh and nutritious vegetables during this Covid-19 lockdown when intercity travel is restricted. In fact, this project has also helped me mentally because instead of being idle at home, I now spend much of my time working in my garden,” he said.
Mr Gwenhure said his project also acts as a research platform to determine the relevant and suitable management practices for vegetable growing considering that Binga falls under agricultural region five, which is largely characterised by low rainfall patterns and poor sandy soils.
“I started my nutrition vegetable gardening project on May 1 this year. The whole idea behind this urban horticulture project was to raise enough money to develop the residential stand as well as supplement my salary,” he said.
“The project is also aimed at making other local residents appreciate the importance of backyard farming as a way of improving the standard of living, especially during this Covid-19 lockdown when people are encouraged to stay at home.”
Mr Gwenhure said his thriving garden project was also meant to demonstrate that he was a hands on teacher.
“This project is not only an income generating project. In fact, it is also demonstrative of the hands-on education for life sustenance that is encouraged by our new curriculum. This project also acts as research platform in determining the relevant and suitable management practices for vegetable cropping considering that our area is classified under region five where temperatures are generally high, erratic rainfall and sandy and poor soils,” he said.
Mr Gwenhure said due to the abundant water in the Zambezi River, Binga is an ideal district in terms of horticulture projects.
“I therefore urge local farmers to capitalise on vast perennial water in the Zambezi River and venture into market gardening projects rather than relying on buying vegetables from areas like Bulawayo where water is very scarce,” he said.
Mr Gwenhure’s garden also plays a significant role in terms of improving nutrition and health of people in the locality.
“As an agriculturist I wanted to be an example in our community. I supply vegetables to local residents, restaurants, lodges, NGOs and Government departments in Binga. I realise at least $24 000 and with this money I am now able to take care of 17 people,” he said.
For Mr Gwenhure, the sky is the limit as he hopes to expand the project in the event that he secures more land.
“This project is actually a stepping stone for me and I believe there is more in store. I intend to venture into big agricultural projects if I get funding and more land. My ultimate goal is to be a household name in Zimbabwe in the horticulture industry and I believe I have what it takes to scale dizzy heights,” he said.