Last week I spoke about how cellphone farming was the solution to unlocking ways of financing farmers who have access to land. Some of the main reasons why farmers can not get access to finance for farming operations are:
- high cost of finance;
- predatory lending practices by banks and microfinance institutions;
- lack of immovable property (collateral) to borrow against; and
- lack of farming experience.
Solving these challenges requires some outside the box thinking. The YouFarm Crowd Farming Platform exists to square the playing field for people with access to land by providing a solution that does not ask for collateral and provides farmers with training, technology and experienced agronomists.
Having a say
Agriculture has evolved tremendously from when man first domesticated plants and animals in the fertile crescent thousands of years ago. We now use all sorts of methods to increase yields and fight off pests and diseases. These methods range from fertilizers and pesticides to genetic modification of plants and animals. Unfortunately some of these chemicals find their way into our diets. For example a pesticide know as Roundup has been linked to gluten intolerance. The jury is still out on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) and some effects are still not known. For example if a gene that makes groundnuts resistant to a particular disease or pest is taken and spliced into maize, in order to make the maize resistant to said disease, will the maize affect people with peanut allergies? This is why you see labels for things that have the disclaimer that it may contain peanuts yet its not even remotely related to peanuts.
Another concern with farms in Zimbabwe and Africa in general is the use of child labour. In a report titled “Bitter Harvest”, children as young as 11 are reported to be working on farms. This practice needs to be stopped.
Its time people have a say in how their food is produced. Participatory agiculture is just one way in which people can take back the power of determining what they put into their bodies. If you believe in organic non-GMO food then you need to invest in organic non-GMO crops. If you believe in grass fed beef then invest in a herd. YouFarm gives people a chance to determine how their food is grown by getting them to become cellphone farmers, who invest in crops that are grown organically and ethically, without the use of child labour.
How do I become a farmer without land?
Easy! All you need is an internet connection and your laptop or a smartphone. Then register as an investor with YouFarm. YouFarm gives you all the information you need to know about the crops you want to invest in. We tell you how they will be grown, the chemicals that will be used and the labour force. YouFarm thoroughly vets the farms and farmers producing detailed reports. You can then make the decision to support that farmer and have a say in how your food is grown.
By choosing which crops to invest in, you are participating in the agricultural value chain. You are also participating in the economy, we all know that Zimbabwe is an agro based economy, so you also have your say in what direction the economy takes. By joining the YouFarm Crowd Farming Platform you automatically become a beneficiary of the Zimbabwean Land Reform Program. Its no longer something that is reserved for farmers or politicians. Its something for all Zimbabweans home and abroad.
Next week we will look at the risks associated with agriculture. Follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/youfarmzw or on twitter @YouFarmZim. To register as a farmer or investor log onto the website http://www.youfarm.co.zw and fill out the registration forms.