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Early Harvest For Urban Farmers As Thieves Run Amok

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Lloyd Takawira  

For urban and peri-urban maize farmers the biblical adage , “You reap what you sow ” does not apply as  thieves have forced them to prematurely harvest their crops because of the  high demand for the delicate green cobs which have flooded most urban areas.

For Gogo Pemba  peri-urban farming is a source of livelihood which she has been practicing since the 1990s .However tragedy has struck her little hope of wading off hunger as thieves went on a rampage  stealing her green mealies at her small field along Tilcor road in Chitungwiza.

Gutted by her tragedy, the   scorching sun couldn’t deter Gogo Pemba from harvesting what remains, her share  after the unscrouplous boys in town took a share of what did not belong to them.

 ” Mwanangu zvinorwadza kuti ini ndini wekurima , mumwe ndowekukohwa . Ndondava vazhinji vachigadzira minda yavo mhani (it’s painful that I’m the one to do all the farming and someone just come to reap . That is the reason why some use charms to wade off thieves from their fields)”

The frail looking 79 year old woman thundered grudgingly as she together with three of her granddaughters harvest what was left by the thieves.

Marumwezuro chaiye taive pano , munda wakanaka . Takangonzwa pa radio kuti mbavha dzarura muminda tikati vanangu ngatikohwei . Ko ndagozivei kuti ndanga ndaweshewa kare  ( Yesterday there was a program on radio talking about how thieves are stealing green maize in urban areas, l then said to my granddaughters let’s harvest before we are grounded like many others . Unbeknown to me , l was the latest victim)” said Gogo Pemba.

Most Urban farmers who spoke to Bustop TV expressed concern over the nature of thieves who are habitually stealing green maize cobs. 

So humorous and disposable is that some farmers are resorting to write on cardboard boxes warning thieves of the dangers of stealing green maize . 
One such banishing inscription that this reporter come across was written ” Anoba iba hako ,sekuru vakagadzira munda uno vakaenda ku Mozambique “.

 For Mr Joseph Makanda his maize field opposite Guzha shopping center popularly known as Chikwanha has became his residence. 
The vivacious Makanda vowed that together with fellow able bodied peri-urban farmers in the same area decided to camp at night in their maize fields armed with knobkerries and catapult.

Ini makore ese aya nana Museyamwa nevamwe tinototi manheru touya kuzorara kuno kuminda taka guard so . Mbavha kungouya chete i rekeni pamunhu . Idzo mbavha dzacho dzotozivawo kuno it’s a no go area.

Ndingakohwe nguva isati yakwana hazvigoni ( l inherited this portion from father who is now retired . All these years together with fellow able bodied man who are also peri-urban farmers here we come during the night to guard our fields armed with weapons. I cannot be forced into early harvesting by thieves)..”the energetic Makanda vowed.

Another farmer Mr Manase Mudoti whose small field is along Hunyani river said most of his fellow farmers were forced into early harvesting after thieves became a menace.

“For me as you can see , my maize crops are not yet ripe. As soon as they became ripe , I will harvest because l don’t want to run loss . If you look the next person over there, they have already harvested not because the maize was dry , it was because of thieves”.

Peri-urban agriculture is a common strategy used by urban dwellers in their endeavor to pursue food security. With rapid population growth, high levels of poverty, high food prices, and high rate of unemployment urban agriculture has according to Ackerman, Dahlgren and Xu (2013 “became an additive form of economic development as opposed to it being substitutive. 

According to the (Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] 2007) the practice of urban agriculture is aligned to the Sustainable Livelihoods theoretical framework which talks about the improvement of livelihoods of the poor in human societies through peri-urban farming.

For most peri-urban farmers who spoke to Bustop TV News , a bumper harvest is guaranteed because of the good rains . The only second problem standing aside from the city fathers who always threatens to slash their crops are the  thieves who have became menacing imperil.


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