Insurance key for farmers, legislators say

By Takawira 'Photovet' Dapi

Zimbabwean farmers should draw lessons from the recent hailstorm experienced by tobacco farmers, the likes of, Tawanda Chihwai, who recovered from a significant loss of his tobacco crop hit by a hailstorm.

Mr Chihwai had his tobacco crop fully insured.

Lawmakers in Mashonaland East Province saluted Mr Chihwai and his family for insuring their tobacco which was 100% destroyed by hailstorms in Marondera North farms where they farm as Chihwai Farmers recently.

They also used this incident to warn all farmers in Zimbabwe to always insure their crops, livestock, equipment, infrastructures and their personal health too in time emphasizing that, farming is a corporate business movement which demand heavy multi-currency capital, worse its products can be fatally infected and affected by unpredictable natural or manmade (management errors) disasters before the farmer yields, payback and finally bank the sales.

Hwedza North Constituency legislator, Honourable, Dr David Musabayana, firstly thanked God for the long waited for rains when crops were succumbing to moisture stress.

He consoled, acknowledged and warned Marondera North commercial farmer, Tawanda Chihwai (34),

He said:
“Indeed the rains came with mixed fortunes, however, we are grateful to the Almighty for the onset of the long awaited rains.

“When I heard about Tatenda Chihwai’s 25 hectare hailstorm disaster, it was bad news but automatically my mind was not devastated because I quickly knew that all his farming businesses are insured because I personally know his as an ever alert youthful farmer who successfully utilised what we taught him then, today we are proud of him as our experienced professional farming business youth from Mashonaland East.

I know these Chihwais because I used to assist them with my maize harvesting machines as our young farmers. They are professional because they have certificates in this farming, including their wives, hence they understand insurance merits,” he acknowledged the affected Chihwai.

Hon Musabayana advised all national farmers,

“To all farmers, keep yourselves, your livestock away from lighting, thunderstorms and hailstorm dangers, when you suspect rainfall from your fields or pastures.

“Come closer to communities where you can get assistance when disasters strike you.

“Your livestock structures must be secured from these disasters,” said Musabayana.

He added

“2021 season is difficult for some tobacco farmers as some of the insurance companies are demanding cash premiums upfront.

“Traditionally, tobacco was insured on planting and post-paid on point of sale.

“We are made to believe some errant tobacco contractors failed to owner stop orders for insurers in the 2020 season, forcing reaction by some insurers to demand cash up front.

“Our prayer is for TMB to bring together the key players in the industry and sort out these challenges.

“Naturally, tobacco is an expensive crop and would require huge capital outlay towards insurance.

“Worse prepayments may have the negative impact of reducing production after farmers fall on cash strains,” he said.

On why banks assigned to facilitate command agriculture inputs are failing to do so to some Hwedza farmers, he explained,

“As regards borrowing money from Command Agriculture banks, the government used to do it on its own but most of the farmers did not own up their repayments.

“They would side market hence pressure from the parliament that the government was not supposed to compete with private financial institutions incorporate financing affairs.

“Banks do due diligence, they have checks and balances first.

“Serious farmers do not apply for loans in December, that will be too late unless they will be for top-ups, otherwise they are destined to fail, though I am not blaming both the farmer or the bank, worse I do not know when and how exactly that farmer applied, farmers must manage their relationships with their banks, having very good track records, banks are looking for people to lend money to as a business, but when they are not sure if they can still get back their money, that is when they take their time to release their money, that is their business culture globally.

“On the same point, I ask the banks to make sure they do what they agreed with their customer because a customer is a king in any business at last,” he said.

On why young successful farmers like Tawanda Chihwai still do not own land from the government, though after yearly being a pace marker young farmer, he said,

“Land is quite limited, it does not expand, I know these Chihwais from Marondera North as serious tobacco farmers, whose crop got destroyed 100% by a hailstorm on 14-December-202).

“They have proved that they are very good farmers who have been successfully inspired by us.

“However, to all renting farmers, it is not about initially owning land but access to the land to successfully utilise it because your business is farming, then all you firstly need is access to the land to farm.

“Just like a general dealer, he or she firstly needs a shop where there is business, not first to own the shop.

“Then you buy your own shop later, a good example is this affected Chihwai farmer, who started by accessing land through renting and they have historically showcased for years that they are pace markers in tobacco and horticulture, obviously they must be prioritized when land is available.

On contractual renting or leasing land, he advised,

“Again, farming is business, the government must be aware of the contracts between farmers and those from whom they are renting from, leasing or partnering with because we cannot keep on taking away land from farmers, because then, the owner of that presently idle farm used to win farming accolades, but today things have changed, maybe due to age or health, that land is now being disused, that is why our government allowed JVs, (joint ventures), partnerships and so on,” he said.

Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe District’s Maramba Pfungwe Constituency legislator, Hon MP Makuwi Tichawona Karumazondo highlighted another man who caused the farming disaster and also Congratulated Zimbabwe police for arresting electricity transmission transformers which are leaving UMP farmers and families powerless daily,

“Farming is a very delicate, expensive but highly remunerating business that the whole world will be watching and expecting your yields.

“So thank you Chihwai for having your tobacco insured but, we still have manmade farming disasters of farm-electricity-power-cut due to thieves stealing transformers daily and in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe District here in Mashonaland East Province.

“Thank you Zimbabwe Police for arresting those suspected thieves who allegedly were caught red-handed stripping one of our district transformers near Uzumba Constituency legislator, Hon Simbaneuta Mudarikwa’ s Murehwa Growth Point shop,” said Karumazondo,” he said.

The wife of Marondera North farmer who recently lost their 25 hectares of tobacco to hailstorm, a week before its first harvest ripping, Mrs Nyemwererai Kanzombe Chihwai was bravely back on their destroyed field doing ratooning, that is giving life back to their 100% destroyed plants, she was busy but briefly said to this publication,

“It is now a few days after completely losing our 25ha tobacco by a hailstorm, we will never surrender to any kind of disasters as Zimbabwean farmers from Mashonaland East, from the east biblically means we are wiser and courageous farmers, that means, we are back ratooning the other 8hactares of our destroyed tobacco, that is to get a new crop from these stems.

“Ratooning means we are not surrendering yet, this is an agricultural process of giving an affected plant a second life chance.

“Here we will be cutting the stem at 20cm from the ground, applying compound and top dressing fertilizer at the same time, that is 250kg compound per hectare of 15 500 plants, plus 75kg of top dressing and pesticide and fungicide chemicals.

“On the other remaining 17ha, we are planting sugar beans,” said Mrs
Nyemwererai Kadzombe Chihwai who archived a diploma in Agriculture after being married to a farming clan, Chihwais,” she said.
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