Written 27 April 2017
Last year I was invited by a Zimbabwean friend of mine in London to join a group of Zimbabweans to crowd fund a piece of land so that we could grow maize on a trail basis to build a proof-of-concept for future agricultural crowd funded projects.
This friend of mine had been given a number of hectares in Zimbabwe to try and see if we could successful produce maize on the piece of land for future farming projects and contracts. As a means to foster Zimbabwean collaboration and cooperation he invited me to join him with a number of other people to start a crowd fund.
In the heat of the moment I got too critical about this project because there were no water sources on the piece of land, no irrigation, I didn't know the guys on the ground, the project was not using permaculture practices and I was just not sure I could trust the project because there were no definitive systems, safe guards and assurances of success. By so doing I missed this opportunity.
Six months down the lane the maize have grown superbly (see images below), the proof of concept is a total success, the group is expecting a bumper harvest of more than 5 tonnes/hectare and they have now built a successful case study and proof of concept to be given more land and potentially funding in future.
The moral of the story is as Zimbabweans we tend to get too critical, over questioning and second guessing our own initiatives, hence we don't produce. We spend too much time procrastinating, finding potential reasons why the project will fail instead of taking a risk and acting.
Now, I'm not saying one should just jump into projects without doing due diligence but the fact that this project required a small investment of about $1000 each. I should have been less critical and more focused on the bigger picture: taking a calculated risk, building a proof of concept, gaining the experience, gaining the confidence for future and bigger projects even if the systems and some of the information I may have needed weren't available.
The group is now being offered another 30-50 hectares to try wheat next year. The land will have irrigation and a dam.......this will be something worth looking at. We will also be seeking land for other alternatives: flowers, sugar cane, ginger, paprika and other such horticultural products and crowd funding is the model we are going with.
I will write a post giving feed back of the second project soon.
By Rutendo Matinyarare