Ruramiso Mashumba in one of her maize fields

Meet Ruramiso Mashumba, SACAU’s Young Agripreneur Ambassador

Ruramiso Mashumba in one of her maize fields

Ruramiso Mashumba in one of her maize fields

Ruramiso Mashumba is a young female farmer from Marondera, Zimbabwe. She started farming in 2012 on a farm she inherited from her parents. At the time, the farm was just a bush with no equipment and the necessary infrastructure.

In 2013, she started growing snap peas for export to the European Union and Africa. She has since expanded her operations and now grows a variety of horticulture crops, indigenous organic grains that she mills into our under the brand Mnandi organic and traditional, brown rice as well as commercial maize. Ruramiso is also involved in forestry – in 2014, she partnered with Sustainable Afforestation Association, a Zimbabwean-based organisation, and planted 100ha of gum trees. She is also venturing into seed production after securing a contract with a renowned company to grow 30ha seed maize and 20ha seed millet.

Her interest in farming started while she was working in the United Kingdom for one of the leading agricultural equipment companies.
It was there that she realised the potential of equipment and technology in transforming agriculture. This led her to commit to change the image of agriculture, and she embarked on farming upon her return to Zimbabwe. Ruramiso has never looked back since she started farming and is continuously looking for ways to improve and grow her farming business. The many opportunities that she knows exist in agriculture keep her interested in remaining a farmer.

Ruramiso holds a BA Degree in Agriculture Business Management from the University of West England (UWE). She is the National Chairperson of The Zimbabwe Farmers Union Young Farmers’ Club to which she was elected in 2014. Ruramiso also founded Mnandi Africa, an organisation that helps rural woman to combat poverty and malnutrition by empowering and equipping them with skills and knowledge in agriculture, nutrition, markets and technology; assisting them to access affordable and effective agro technology through an input-sharing program; and collectively purchasing and selling goods and services. Mnandi’s vision is to ultimately end hunger and poverty.

Her work was noticed by AGCO and she was invited to attend their Africa Summit in Berlin in 2015. After sharing her story, she won an award for in uence and leading woman toward mechanisation in Africa. In 2016, she was selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which is the agship program of Barak Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. Ruramiso was selected to be a panelist at the World Food Prize in Iowa and gave input on the importance of nutrition in Africa.

She also became a member of the global farmer network and was nominated for The Zimbabwe Businesswoman award. She has also been featured in a number of publications, including The Zimbabwean Farmer magazine and also on the New Alliance for food and nutrition publication, which is endorsed by the African Union.

On attracting and keeping young people in farming, she believes that there should be efforts tobrand agriculture as a success and showcase opportunities in the value chain.

SACAU youth Ms Ruramiso Mashumba (left) and Mr Innocent Jumbe (Right) outside the SeedCo warehouse.

Two young farmers participate in seed harmonisation learning-visit in Lusaka

SACAU youth Ms Ruramiso Mashumba (left) and Mr Innocent Jumbe (Right) outside the SeedCo warehouse.

SACAU youth Ms Ruramiso Mashumba (left) and Mr Innocent Jumbe (Right) outside the SeedCo warehouse.

The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) organised a learning visit to Lusaka under the Common Market for Eastern and southern Africa (COMESA) Seed Harmonization Implementation Plan from 27th to 28th April 2017.

The visit was designed to familiarise farmers with COMESA harmonisation procedures and status in Zambia. Participating in the visit were farmers from Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Seychelles, Congo and Rwanda, representing both SACAU and the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation.

Most of these farmers were seed growers for various seed companies in their respective countries. Among other things, farmers were briefed on the processes of seed policy harmonisation at national and regional level. Issues of variety release, registration and post control testing as some key points in seed harmonisation were also deliberated. The team also visited SeedCo to observe first-hand the practices of private sector on seed production. A tour was made in their labs, factory and a maize production field.

“We noted that for a variety to be used by farmers in a country, it should undergo the following processes: variety release, registration for production, seed field inspections, sampling & testing, certification, licensing of seed traders, and post control testing to assess how close seed is to the original/authentic sample,” said Mr Innocent Jumbe, one of the participants from the SACAU Young Farmers’ Forum. “We toured the seed laboratory illustrating how the key parameters in seed production are tested,” added Jumbe.

Farmers visited demonstration plots of Monsanto, SeedCo, Syngenta and ZamSeed. At these demonstrations, discussions mainly focused on how the companies are reaching out to farmers and what farmers should expect from these companies.

The main concern of the farmers was on difficulties of accessing germplasm and how they can work with the seed companies from their specific countries. Lastly, farmers highlighted the need for farmer empowerment through deliberate effort to incorporate farmers as shareholders in the seed companies and not just growers. Issues of fake seed affecting smallholder farmers was also raised by the farmers; and role of women and youth in seed production.