Saturday, 30 December 2017

Young Farmers Series: Brian Hapunda Shares His Secrets

Brian Hapunda checking one of the harvested tomatoes
By Paul Shalala

In the first of a number of articles showcasing young, educated and successful Zambian youths who have ventured into farming, i profile Brian Hapunda, a young politician who has made it big in farming.

Brian is a lawyer by profession, a former students union leader at the University of Zambia and is currently a member of the ruling Patriotic Front's Media and Publicity Committee.

He previously served as PF Political Secretary for Southern Province during the late President Michael Sata's three year presidency and PF Media Director in 2015.

In this article, he puts aside politics and talks farming.

Farming as a Hobby

Brian says as he was growing up, he always wanted to venture into farming and he always told himself that one day he will  be a big farmer.

To realise that dream, four years ago, Brian embarked on his dream by utilising some traditional farm land, growing cash crops such as tomatoes and maize alongside goats.

"I always had the passion of growing food firstly to feed myself and later others and am happy through God and consistency coupled with an ever supporting wife who has become my farming partner, we are now living our dream. What seemed to be an impossible journey four to five years ago has now turned into a success farming story that I and my wife have taken seriously as an income venture for the family," he says.

He says through the farming business, he has created jobs, mostly for youths who work at the farm.

Below is a verbatim of Brian's story as posted on his Facebook page:

Brian with his wife Mwela in the field
Challenges in Farming for us

Like every business venture, we faced some challenges in our farming challenges and at some point I thought of giving up. I remember one of my Farming mentors and friend Dr Tamara Kaunda on a tour of our Farm said, "Patience & Consistency is what defines a farmer" as she encouraged me to continue growing our farming Business.

Farming too needs some stable capital injection on top of Land acquisition which in my view is the biggest challenge. We had to begin our activities on Traditional Farm land. We had no big monies but through prioritising & personal sacrifices, we were able to get started with our Tomato Farming.

Tomato Farming is a serious Cash crop venture but it is labour intensive aswel requires modern effective Irrigation System. All these entail saving resources and channeling it towards this goal. This was not easy and we achieved it over a very long period of time!

Time

Farming requires Time and Patience. There is no "Remote Control" Farming. If one takes up serious Farming as an income Venture then you can not afford to be doing Remote Control Farming. You just have to create time for Farm work and fund yourself at the Farm/Fields doing Farm work.

Being a busy person myself as a Community Worker  (Politician) I had to balance up my time with Farming especially in the initial stages of our Farming actives.

Spending time at the Farm working with my Farm Labourers and monitoring works there helped me build a strong working relationship with my Team and also learn practicle Farming skills from them.

My spending time at the Farm also helped reduce Pilferage (stealing) by some untrustworthy Workers.

Brian interacting with one of his farm workers
Through my consistency time spending at the Farm,  I can now firmly we have set up "Systems" there to enhance our Farming activities/Works which is very vital in any business venture.

Stigma and Discouragements

I remember telling some friends of mine my intention  to take up Farming as a fulltime active and what their responses were. I must say out of 10, 2 would encourage me positively to persue Farming as an Income venture whilst majority of them would simply tell me off that, "why would I want to take up Farming as though i was an Old Man?"

Others would tell me that "Brian why would you want to put your Education to waste after having been to School?"

Worst still, I would get this stigma when I walk into a Social meeting with my friends & they would say, "there goes the Farmer" in a teasing way ofcourse!  Most of my friends/People were used to me as a  Communinity Worker (Politician if you like) and not as a Farmer!

The Stigma and Discouragements I got from certain People then almost made me give up my Farming  Dream and question myself if I was doing the right thing but I would tell myself again that I am going to do this not to please People but to discover my other Talent in Life that I can leave on.

I am glad that through Perseverance and Commitment, I have Discovered my other Talent in my Life which is Farming.

Government's Pronouncements to Diversify the Economy to Agriculture Anchored from Mining Anchored Economy

Planting tomato
I am pleased that the Government has come up with a Policy to begin to shift our Copper (Mining) based Economy to Agriculture based Economy as a way of growing the Economy bigger. This Pronouncement & Policy comes with quite alot of Positive favouritism to the Farming Community such as Subsidised Farming Inputs etc which Farmers can take advantage of.

However, through my Farming experience the Government needs to come up with a deliberate support mechanism to support Young People in Zambia wishing to venture into Farming and take up Farming as an Income Generating activity for themselves.

65% of Zambia's adult Population is made up of Young People below the age of 35 years. This means that Young People are Productive base of our Nation & if most Young People are encouraged to venture into Farming, it will make Zambia Food Secure & yet another Food Basket for our Region.

The Government must also ensure that Local Farmers are protected against foreign Farming outputs such as fresh vegetables, Fruits, Tomatoes, Potatoes etc for this kills Local Small Scale Cash Crop Farmers who have to compete with Multi International Farmers!

Young People wishing to go into Farming must be assisted to Acquire affordable Farming Land as land is a serious Capital in Agriculture Business.

It's high time that we also have a "Government Farmers Bank" whose role will be to help Identify Farming Talent, Finance Farmers and help them Grow as is the Case in Botswana, Senegal etc.

Words of Encouragement to fellow Young People

Fellow Young People as you turn into the new year 2018, focus on discovering your purpose on Earth, focus on discovering your Productive Talent on Earth and use it to create a Job and an Income for yourself!

Checking one of his tomato fields
You must aim to create multiple income sources for yourself. You must aim to become Financially Independent in 2018!

You must aim to network with People whom you can learn one or two Positives from!

Lastly, no matter how many times you have fallen down to the Ground in your Life you must not stop moving.  Simply get up clean/dust yourself & keep on moving for Patience & Consistency defines a VICTOR!

I am a Living Testimony of how many Times i have fallen to the Ground or made to fall to the Ground & i stood up to continue walking

Merry Christmas & a Prosperous New Year to you all

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