Domboshawa: Changing faces from farming to pottery

DOMBOSHAWA - Nestled 30 kilometres northeast of Harare, Domboshawa is at the heart of the capital’s market gardening activities and it is one of Harare’s biggest supplier of horticultural products.

For decades, families have relied on market gardening activities for survival but things seem to be changing.

Deteriorating water levels, expanding population, economic stagnation and a flooded market have forced successive generations to diversify from the trade that their forefathers survived on.

There is not much coming out of the tomatoes and onions that used to be a sound source of livelihood for many a family.

Domboshawa has borne the brunt of Harare’s industrial meltdown of the past decade.

Youths coming out of school who were supposed to migrate into town and leave the market gardening to the uneducated and aging have turned to horticulture for livelihoods putting more pressure on an already strained land.

A new crop of entrepreneurs has emerged known in vernacular as Makoronyera, middlemen.

Using the latest technology including Ibnternet applications they communicate with “runners” stationed at Mbare Musika to determine commodity prices.

The Daily News caught up with Courage Muzanhi, a former farmer turned middlemen, who said he saw no reason to get down and dirty when he can make easy money.

“Why would I waste my time going into farming when everybody is doing that? It does not make financial sense,” he says.

“I will need money for seed and fertilisers while I can sit here (at Domboshawa’s popular Showground centre) intercept the farmers before they go to Mbare and make lots of cash out of their produce,” Muzanhi said.

He said he and other former farmers had faced a lot of challenges to raise money for seed and fertiliser.

Mazanhi and others of his ilk do not need money for inputs to be middlemen. People accuse us of fleecing farmers but we have no choice and the unfortunate part is it seems we are making more money than those that toil day and night in the gardens.

Then there are some who have abandoned anything to do with farming branching into pottery making for subsistence.

Intermittent droughts have turned into fist fights over water sources and these have given up the craft they so loved into making some of the most amazing forms of pottery.

The Daily News interviewed Chipo Matienga, an elderly woman of Chiocha village, who is a pottery maker.

“I have been a subsistence farmer for more than 15 years but when the market became flooded by produce I ventured into pottery making,” she said.

State agency, Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) provided UD trucks that ferried farmers to and from the markets at affordable prices.

“After Arda pulled out from providing affordable transport a lot of people dropped out of the business and that is when I dropped. There are a few players in ceramics and it’s profitable,” said Matienga.

Arda has been reported in the media as auctioning tractors for as little as $30 while over 33 000 herd of cattle had depleted to a paltry 1 300 to curb the economic problems the organisation has been facing.

Besides being known for farming, Domboshava is well known of its large granite hill near the village.

The place was named Domboshava after the several rock formations that build up the place and the rock paintings that are believed to have been painted about 6 000 years ago. - Kaleen Gombera

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