Open letter to the President (II)


YOUR Excellency, it is time we thought outside the box with regards to irrigated farming.

We have, as you correctly and impressively articulated in your response to my submission at the recently ended Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce annual congress, that we have 1,8 million rural households.

Adam, the representative of mankind, his first occupation was farming. God gave Adam a piece of land we popularly call the Garden of Eden when Adam was only one day old.

This is disruptive innovation thinking, by which I mean the bringing into production of the greater majority of the population using simple, affordable and accessible technology.

Your Excellency, the question before us as a nation is deciphering how Adam engaged in farming without the modern hi-tech methods we use. The answer to this question will give us a clue as to how we can assist the 1,8 million rural households to establish their own Gardens of Eden. The answers are readily available: Adam used irrigation, natural farming processes and un-mechanised production; Adam employed his own hands to produce.

Your Excellency, it is a well-known fact that our farmers, both ordinary rural households and the A2 farmers, find it difficult to borrow “money” from financial institutions. There were no banks that financed Adam’s farming activities. God supplied the river that irrigated the Garden of Eden. Your Excellency, we can take a leaf from this model; government should mobilise resources to provide the irrigation sources for our 1,8 million rural households.

Your Excellency, we do not have to think in terms of building dams. We can drill boreholes throughout the country to supply the water for our rural Gardens of Eden. Your Excellency, government can mobilise 2 000 rigs. If each rig drills two boreholes a day, we can, in just one year, literally have 1 440 000 boreholes in our rural areas.

If we categorise our rural households into five groups, we can reduce the number of boreholes, solar-powered, to 288 000 shared boreholes. These can be drilled in 72 days. Your Excellency, we do not need our ordinary rural households to produce on huge pieces of land. On just one-sixteenth of a hectare, 624 square metres, roughly the size of a Hopeville stand where you recently officially opened the Hopeville housing project in Bulawayo, one tonne or more maize can be produced on this little “Garden of Eden”.

These little Gardens of Eden can also be put under soya and winter wheat production, courtesy of irrigation.

Through double and multi-cropping enabled by borehole-based irrigation, our rural households can produce surpluses in maize and soya beans and produce at least six months’ supply of our national wheat needs.

No advanced machinery is needed — the most advanced implement will be the hoe. In the first year, we may need to provide basal fertiliser and ammonium nitrate fertiliser, as well as chemical sprays. In the second year, we could arrive at a position where we use zero synthetic fertiliser for these little Gardens of Eden.

Your Excellency, the question you may have is: how are we going to fund the drilling of boreholes, solar powering systems, the initial synthetic fertilisers, seeds and chemical sprays?

This leads us to our second national sin of financial-economic thinking: we largely think that money is what is availed from the banks. The truth is that banks do not have money — all they have is a representation of money. This applies to any bank, including the Bretton Woods institutions. Allow me to introduce another Biblical insight on fund raising. It is called the Law of the Seed.

The Law of the Seed is derived from Genesis 1:11. God made fruit-bearing trees producing fruit with seed inside. Your Excellency, just one tiny seed can multiply manifold to produce a forest or a plantation — just one seed. The Law of the Seed works in conjunction with the Law of Multiplication. The Law of Multiplication is a command programmed into plants and animals when God instructed flora and fauna to “be fruitful and multiply”.

This is not linear growth, it is geometric or exponential or compounded growth. Little yields abundance. This is what the Law of the Seed and the Law of Multiplication birth when used in combination. Assets are the things that obey the Law of the Seed and the Law of Multiplication.

Almost every parastatal is not an asset (does not bring yield or income to government) — these parastatals are liabilities. This is where part of our funding for the rural Gardens of Eden will come from. Let us sell these liabilities which many erroneously call assets. The Law of the Seed, when applied in practice, instructs us to set aside seed from every produce we get for the purposes of multiplication.

Our current budget surplus is an incomplete application of the Law of the Seed. We are indeed setting aside seeds from our national incomes (fiscus) — the budget surplus.

Our national sin is that we are eating all the seeds and not sowing them. It is very noble that we are using the fiscal surplus (seed) to alleviate those who are in difficult economic and social circumstances.

However, we cannot eat all the seeds. Let us put part of the budget surplus towards the proposed national borehole drilling project. Your Excellency, our ordinary rural households have real wealth — they have livestock — that is the real money.

This real money is infinitely superior to the “money” in our local and international banks. Your Excellency, let us educate our rural households to appreciate that they already have assets and they can re-invest these towards the proposed national borehole drilling project.

Your Excellency, the third national sin of financial-economic planning is that we are now violating the Law of the Dignity of Labour or the Law of Muddy or Dirty Hands. God Himself got His hands dirty and muddy when He created Adam from the mud and when He planted the Garden of Eden. Your Excellency, no one alive or dead could ever lay claim to matching the intellectual capacity of God. Notwithstanding God’s infinite and immeasurable intelligence, He did manual work.

Your Excellency, had it not been that we have a generation of Zimbabweans who were trained by their parents to respect the dignity of manual work, we would not be having the US$3 billion that comes into the country from the diaspora. Our rural people used to supply the bulk of national requirements for maize, cotton and groundnut using simple agricultural implements and techniques. The question is: what has happened to that massive rural household agricultural production? Dignity of labour is vanishing — food aid is taking away the respect for muddy hands.

Your Excellency, this serious disease needs to be declared a national emergency. If this disease is not cured, the proposed rural Gardens of Eden will fail as the Garden of Eden disruptive innovation turns on rural households providing their own labour. Your Excellency, the idea that intellectual pursuits are superior to manual work comes from the educational philosophies of the Greeks as architected by the philosopher Plato. We inherited this erroneous philosophy and incorporated it into our education system. This is why vocational training is not part of our university curriculum, but is instead relegated to vocational training centres and polytechnics; many regard this vocational work as fit for those less gifted intellectually.

If the proposed rural Gardens of Eden initiative is to succeed, we need to un-train our people from the harmful philosophy that vocational work and manual work is for the low classes and intellectually challenged folk.

Brett Chulu is a management consultant and a classic grounded theory researcher who has published research in an academic peer-reviewed international journal. —