By Kenneth Matimaire
Makoni, September 28, 2016 – UNEMPLOYED youths in Manicaland province’s Makoni area have taken to grass vending to earn a living, as it increasingly becomes certain that the ruling Zanu PF government will never deliver the 2,2 million jobs it promised Zimbabweans during the 2013 election campaign period.
While the area also offers opportunities in agriculture, youths have found grass vending as a safe haven against joblessness.
Farming is often seen as more lucrative but financially demanding for the poorly resourced youths.
The enterprising youths sell the grass along highways where motorists stop to buy it for thatching, mulching and cattle fodder.
The practice is common in Nyazura, Bridgestone, Million Farm, Everton and Coxstud areas in the district.
Through selling grass, Francis Nyakufa (31) told RadioVOP on Monday that each one of them could earn an average of $1,000 per season, which usually starts April-October.
Nyakufa said although most of them would have preferred formal employment elsewhere, it was never the case for them as jobs remain scarce.
He added: “We voted in our numbers for Zanu PF because we were promised jobs. And for a community such as ours, where very few villagers are employed, we voted blindly with the hope of getting what we were promised. But I don’t know what is going on now. No one here has benefitted and we continue to wallow in poverty.
“This is what has made us reach this destination. As youths, we sat down and tried to identify ways to sustain ourselves and our families. Selling grass was the only option we could come up with, apart from farming.”
His sentiments were echoed by Isee Gonhi (30), who is also a pastor at a local church.
Gonhi said it is increasingly becoming difficult for unemployed citizens to cope with the daily financial demands faced by everybody nowadays.
He said although he was a pastor and was entitled to some benefits from his church, he still needs an extra source of income to supplement his earnings.
Another villager, Nyasha Murapa (25) sang from the same hymnbook, indicating that he is now able to carter for basics from the proceeds he earned through grass vending.
“I am now able to prepare for the farming season on time as I can now buy fertilisers and seeds. I am also able to buy groceries and take care of my small family through selling grass.
“What we do is that we harvest the grass between April and all the way up to October and we bunch them in stacks which cost between $20 and $50. We have buyers that come from as far as Bulawayo. Our buyers mainly use the grass for thatching in gazebos, lodges or hotels,” he said.
The practice has been endorsed by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) as it limits the impact of veld fires.
Several committees have been established to act as veld fire reaction teams, in a bid not only to protect their properties but to safeguard their natural endowment, grass.