WE HAVE just gone through that season Charles Mungoshi aptly described as “waiting for the rain”. For those among us with agriculture in their hearts, it is that time to look up to the skies expectantly for the advent of the rainy season.
Zimbabwe is still to strike a balance between agriculture that is directly dependent on the rainy season and agriculture anchored in irrigation using stored water bodies. Our harvest remains a direct function of the performance of each rain season.
There is nothing that breeds optimism like the coming of the rains in Africa. A key component of this renewed optimism is the place seed plays in the renewal of various living species.
For the farmer, it is impilo/hupenyu, the very life that sustains a livelihood. This is anchored in an old principle located in the first book of the bible in Genesis 8v22 which predicted that “as long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease”.
For us “sons and daughters of the soil”, as Wilson Katiyo would have called us, we cannot divorce ourselves from seed. The seed you plant is a predictor and directly correlates to the harvest you should expect. The tobacco industry in Zimbabwe every year can predict the size of each year’s crop by the amount of seed sold that season.
You can prophetically order the size of your harvest by what you do at planting. The capacity of your iphahla/tsapi is determined by your seed.
Farmers tell me that seed has three unchanging characteristics. Firstly, every seed produces after its own kind. If you plant maize, you can expect to harvest maize and if you put tomato seed to the ground you will produce tomatoes.
Secondly, a seed produces a harvest much later than when planted. Farming teaches us delayed gratification. Only fungi and germs reproduce almost instantly everything else you have to wait a bit longer.
Be wary of activities which offer instant returns. They say unless a kernel of seed falls to the ground and dies it abides alone, but if it falls to the ground it brings forth a harvest. A seed always bring much more than the amount you plant. Therefore seed time and harvest speaks of increase which leads to compounding. Audit your harvest for the last five years and determine if increase is happening.
It seems life really is a consecutive series of interlinked activities of planting, nurturing and harvesting. Every day we do go out and scatter seed. It is inevitable that some seed will fall on rocky ground, some will fall on hard ground and some, as the bible says, on thorny ground. You do not, however, stop scattering seed because of a few bad experiences.
Farming is a faith-based activity. Even in these years of climate change a farmer keeps putting seed to the ground hoping sufficient rain will come and the weather will be fine to sustain a crop. The majority of seed always falls on good ground to give a bountiful harvest. Part of good farming is identifying that suitable ground.
If all you see is unsuitable ground, you can also make it suitable by preparation. Break the soil down if it is hard. Add some lime if it is acidic. Add some nutrients if it has poor soil.
The seed that we all get an equivalent amount of is time. We are all blessed with a deposit of 24 hours each day. It is important that we redeem the time and apply it to fruitful activity.
For those of us in formal employment we sell our time for a fixed wage which we agree before hand with an employer. The eight hours that is purchased by the company is used to generate seed for the employer. The salary you are paid becomes your proxy seed.
You have the liberty to deploy your seed to produce your own harvest. Plant it on good ground for your twilight years and the next generation.
Originally, I restricted the application of seed time and harvest to financial matters but like the law of gravity, it is an unchanging principle which applies to various aspects of life. As I put it to use in other life activities, I see the fruit it produces.
Historically, I have not had very good experiences with South African police. Each time they stopped me, I would immediately wear a frown as I always thought they were after trying to hustle money out of me. It did not particularly help with the perception that local police treat foreigners as automated teller machines.
This year, whenever they stop me I put aside my cocky Zimbabwean demur and I proactively wind down my window, smile and say something like good day officer, what a beautiful day?
I have now realised that there is nothing which disarms like a seed smile. So I deliberately plant it wherever I can and the results have been astounding. In a majority of cases, we just exchange a few pleasantries and before long, I say ‘ke a leboga’ (which is thank you in Setswana/Sepedi/Sesotho) and I am on my way.
If you do not like your harvest, review your seed. If you find the world is an angry place, check whether you are not planting anger yourself. It is tremendously powerful to realise that only you can determine the size and quality of your harvest.
Go forth therefore and select fine seed and put it on good ground. Planting seed ought to be a celebration steeped in hope that tomorrow will indeed be better.
Tafirenyika L. Makunike is the chairman and founder of Nepachem cc (www.nepachem.co.za), an enterprise development and consulting company. He writes in his personal capacity