A Zimbabwe couple is running a roaring business of selling African agricultural products in Australia’s farming town of Wagga Wagga.
The couple Michael and Joyce Murambi’s passion for farming pushed them into renting a piece of land where they are growing maize cobs, sweet potatoes, and sweet reeds (ipwa).
“Business is good, and we have a lot of customers every weekend who drive from nearby towns to buy our produce,” said Joyce, also a mother of four grown up children who have now moved to different parts of Australia.
Each maize cob is AU$2 which is equivalent to R24. One sweet reed is AU$1.50. Customers are however welcome to eat sweet reeds for free but are not allowed free take-aways.
Zimbabwe Observer news team visited the Murambis to witness their agricultural products. The team crossed the streets Gundagai and Wagga Wagga farming towns on Sunday to chat with the cheerful couple.
The couple is among the few sources of such products in Australia. Zimbabweans and other African nationals drive from as far as Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra to over the weekends to Wagga Wagga buy the scarce commodities from the Murambis.
“We just started it as a hobby at a very small scale but decided to intensify our operations after realizing the huge demand for zhezha,” said Joyce, who is the manager of the plot. She added that they started by planting maize in containers, much to the disapproval of landlords.
White maize cobs are rare in Australia where yellow sweet corns are the favorite of the local people.
“Our target market of Africans who are craving for the white cobs which they used to eat at home is very huge. We also have a grinding meal which we use to grind maize into mealie-meal for sale as well,” said Joyce.
Although the couple is still hanging on to their formal employment, but Joyce told Zimbabwe Observer that they were considering leaving their jobs to be full time in their farming project.
“Michael might leave his job first to explore farming on a full-time basis, but we need more land to increase the harvests in order to get more revenue that can sustain us,” said Joyce.
The couple have a simple irrigation equipment of sprinklers that are spread on the farming area. They use a feeder pipe which is connected to a municipal water supply. Smaller pipers joined to sprinklers are branched into the fields to irrigate the crops.
“The water bill is affordable, we can’t complain, but our only major challenge is low winter temperatures which are not conducive for crops,” explained Michael.
Michael added that round nuts (Nyiko) and ground nuts (mzungu) were the major victims of low temperatures.
He however said this year the temperatures favourable for a longer time adding that they expect a good harvest of nyimo and Nzungu in April.