Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

4 tons per ha – from land dry enough to smelt iron

4 tons per ha – from land dry enough to smelt iron


The soil on which Pastor Leephat Chinyange farms is beautiful soil – red clay, hard – in fact hard enough to smelt iron and to make the beautiful clay pots one sees for sale along the sides of the Masvingo-Beitbridge road.


Pastor Chinyanga and those who practise Foundations for Farming believe the biblical promise: Isaiah 35:6 - For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
Pastor Chinyanga and those who practise Foundations for Farming believe the biblical promise: Isaiah 35:6 – For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.

Its beautiful soil indeed, but not for farming – in fact the area is traditionally considered ranching land, common wisdom holds that very little will grow there. Being region 5, it is Zimbabwe’s driest area, receiving very little rainfall annually.

But this past season in this vast and dry land, there was a beautiful patch of lush green maize, standing defiantly against both common wisdom and the elements. This was the work of a man who believes in the God of the impossible.

And what was achieved is hard to comprehend – Pastor Chimombe has farmed here before, and from this very patch he has failed to get even one bucket of maize in past seasons. In fact two years ago he even hired a tractor hoping mechanisation would improve his yield. But he got nothing. This year he got 300 buckets (about 50 bags) from his tiny piece of land.

So how did all this happen? In 2009 he heard about Foundations for Farming through a meeting of Evangelical Fellowship for Zimbabwe farmers. He is an office bearer for the organisation in his province.

But it was too late in the season to apply what he heard. So in 2010 he started early. At the time, the ground was so hard the hoe was bouncing off as he dug the well-spaced holes where the seed would go in. He is laughing as he tells me this, as if to say only a mad man would do this!

But by faith all things are possible, and dig he did, lining up the holes with precision. High standards matter here. The principles of Foundations for Farming include:

do things on time, to the highest standard you can, minimise wastage, and do it all with joy, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Picture of prep to high standards here

Next he put in the mulch – the area being so dry, it took considerable effort and cost to obtain the mulch, but herein lies the secret.

The rain was late – rainfall in Zimbabwe should start around late October/early November, but that year rain fell for the first time on December 5. He planted on December 7, and the crop that grew was a lush, beautiful healthy green crop with on average four cobs per stalk. This was phenomenal – no-one in the neighbourhood had seen anything quite like this in so dry an area, people were asking him if he watered his maize by night!

Following the rainfall on December 5, the rains disappeared for pretty much the rest of that season. Like any farmer who has scanned the heavens for rains, each week he would calculate that if the rains came now, I would have maybe three of the four cobs per stalk, then two, then even the one still standing was starting to look doubtful.

And still there was no rain. What was happening though was that the dew that comes in the early hours was retained by the mulch, and this was sufficient to keep the crop growing (remember before the times of Noah it never used to rain – maybe this is how God watered the earth?)

The long and the short of it is that from land dry enough to smelt iron, this man of God obtained yields of two tons per hectare. The country average in areas with good rain is less than 1t/ha, and in fact his own neighbours got absolutely nothing, and many will need food aid again this year. If the rains had come on time, and more than just that one time, he would probably have got between 6-8t/ha.

He donated part of his bumper crop to the local remand prison.

This is another principle of the programme – giving. Give and it will come back to you, a good measure pressed down shaken together and running over will be poured in your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Luke 6:38

Pastor Chimombe explained that mulching is giving food to the soil so that it gives back – we can’t just take away from the soil year after year and still expect a good yield. God ordained that the soil will be fed organic matter, hence the importance of mulch. This is not to say it is not possible to feed it other things like artificial fertiliser, but while this too is food, it’s a bit like the difference between eating organic food and living on McDonalds!

Giving to receive – not as sometimes preached in the prosperity gospel, but as taught by a God who gave his son is the fundamental key to reversing the cycle of poverty. This is only possible through a changed heart following true repentance and an acknowledgement that a true and saving faith in God shows itself in actions of faithfulness. It is active faith that makes Chimombe and thousands of others around Zimbabwe apply the principles of ‘farming God’s way’ to a ground dry enough to make clay pots. And it is the mercy of God that his effort brings forth an oasis of green in a sea of scorched brown earth.

Foundations for Farming founder, Brian Oldrieve will be in Leeds on the 27th of August 2011, if you are UK based, you are most welcome to come and hear him speak about this programme. Please get in touch on [email protected]


New Posts: