A Harare-based agribusiness small to medium enterprise, Hambai Produce, has defied the odds moving into supplying its produce to big supermarkets, with a year after it was established, Business Times can report.
Founded by 28-year-old Samantha Mutezo in July last year, Hambai, which grows vegetables, tomatoes, butternuts, lettuce, and garlic, is now supplying big supermarkets such as Spar, Born Marche, Panmart, Flora Pierra.
Hambai grows crops on a 160m² greenhouse and an open field which is about 560m² in Gen Lorne, Harare, thanks to the support from Mutezo’s parents who allowed her to use their backyard for the project.
Speaking to Business Times, Mutezo, an environmental lawyer, said she was proud of her latest achievement as it was not easy getting big supermarkets on board.
“We started with supplying individuals.However, we realised that it wasn’t sustainable given the costs of delivery,” Mutezo told Business Times.
“So as we gained more experience our efficiency increased as did our output. So we had larger volumes to sell and decided it was the best time to try and approach supermarkets.
“We took a chance and went around the city to our closest supermarkets, met buyers, and shared our samples with them. Fortunately, they appreciated the quality of our products and agreed to purchase our produce.
“It’s been a journey and we are grateful for the immense support that we have received from individuals that supported us from day one and even the bigger supermarkets that have come on board to support us.”
Mutezo said Hambai faced challenges in the initial stages that included getting information on where to find the essential things that help to ensure that the crop and produce is good and healthy.
“So I believe that we as farmers need some kind of directory or information platform that makes it easier for young farmers such as myself who are starting out and driven by a passion to be able to achieve their objective and contributes towards feeding the nation,” Mutezo said.
Urban agriculture in Zimbabwe has gained acceptance and recognition over the years for its contribution to urban economies, food security, and the general wellbeing of urban residents. In the outlook, Hambai plans to expand operations and offer assistance to other urban farmers.
“We are hoping to expand operations soon and also to offer training facilities other urban farmers to learn from us and develop a simple but financially sound business model in their own backyard,” Mutezo said.
“I would encourage young people to read as much as they can watch YouTube videos, network with other farmers, and be willing to make mistakes and learn from them” she added.
Many young people aspire to nurture their careers towards the white-collar profession and usually consider farming as a primitive profession only reserved for the old.
However, a group of young farmers are defying odds by committing themselves to farming which they say offers a great commercial value chain adding to the fact that agriculture remains key to employment creation and industrial value chains hence it offers huge opportunities for young people.