By C. Mhindu
I think it’s generally agreed that white farmers are / were better than black farmers.
Below l just highlight why it is so.
1. Pioneer Spirit. The white farmers in Rhodesia were not truelly representative of the European Male. These were a few pioneering individuals as opposed to just a portion of the white population.
2. Blacks where “given farms”. The pioneers took (active) the blacks were given (passive). It makes a big difference how one gets hold of any resource. That’s why people say pfuma yenhaka haigari.
3. Transference of knowledge. This one comes in two parts
i. Whites keep records and write books. Whites had a culture of learning from all and sundry. Blacks don’t like reading about what they are doing but are happy to read for a degree or diploma.
ii. Most white farmers are fifth or sixth, seventh generation farmers. Most blacks on farms are first generation farmers. There hasn’t be transference of information and practical knowledge from father to son father to son.
4. Mindset. Whites are more commercially minded than blacks. Even when blacks access loans and government support they tend to divert most of the money to personal and not business use.
Any farmer (please note the context) who drives a Mercedes Benz, a land cruiser and the latest Ford ranger and sends 3,4,5 kids to a private school does not need any funding in his farming ventures. He already has the money and giving him more just results in more excesses.
Mindset is critical. It takes the same amount of effort to apply for a three thousand dollar loan than it is to apply for a three hundred thousand dollar loan. Blacks we are very limited by our backgrounds. I once took my blood Brothers to my herd which was the numbering about 300…..their conclusion was that l had lost my mind!!!!! Why? Because they said it was not necessary “to have so many cattle”.
5. Maths. Whites do their math blacks rarely do. It’s a big generalization but as a generalization it’s aptly true. A white man knows his cost of production the Blackman does not (again as a generalization). If a black says he is selling a cow for 750 don’t run away. You can still buy that cow for 350!!!! If a white is selling for 750 you will be extremely lucky to pay 650. Why is this so? The white man knows what it has cost him to produce the cow and hence the value of the cow and the black man does not.
6. Scale of production. In ranging scale is key to profitability!!! You can never run a herd of 25 cattle and expert that herd to finance itself and finance all your needs in your life. A herd of 250 will finance itself and quite a number of your needs. A herd of 1000 will finance itself and most if not all your needs.
So blacks and Zimbabweans have scale challenges on two fronts
i. Limited mindset. We think small and consequently our small operations can never support our living fully. So by necessity we become part time farmers and it becomes a vicious circle. I am a part time farmer myself. I do ranching but l have an 8-5 job.
ii. Land size holding. Most of the farmers here have farms which cannot handle 300 herd of cattle. Your land size puts a ceiling on whatever you can do on the farm. Even if you go intensive the land size will still become a barrier to growth at some stage.
6. Control and maintainance of the value chain. Whites tend to create and maintain and have control on the value chain and generally blacks don’t have that.
We sell our cattle through middlemen who make more profit on the cow than we do. We have no shareholding in the ventures that produce or buy farm inputs. This is a bad situation and promotes exploitative behaviors. Consequently we remain as “new farmers” for time immemorial.
There is no use talking about these issues and not advancing possible solutions. I suggest that blacks
1. Must change their mindsets
2. Must change scale of operation
3. Must seek intensive farming approaches since farm holding sizes have greatly been reduced
4. Must combine farms and work together to reduce unit costs
5. Must read books
6. Must develop viable marketing strategies rather than rely on third parties
7. Must read books
8. Must learn from the whiteman and any indi of color doing the right things locally and abroad.
9. Must take a long term view of their operations
10. Must do the math
C. Mhindu app 0774460531Call 0716436172