Advantage: Selling grass saves a person from poverty

Sweat drips from his face and neck, soaking his shirt as Tafara Rongai rakes grass some distance from his house.

As the sun set in Gato village in Guto district, Masvingo province, it was another hard day’s work at the office for Rongai who has been wielding his machete for the past five years to help his family overcome poverty.

The 34-year-old makes his living cutting and harvesting Heparhenia hirta, commonly known as hay grass, for sale. He fell in love with the trade after visiting his father-in-law to pay his respects in Mutoko, Mashonaland East Province, more than 350 kilometers from his home.
“I must admit that before I started the grass selling business, I lived a miserable life of working in other people’s fields or doing any menial work to feed my family,” Rongai told NewsDay.

“Selling grass was never on my to-do list, but poverty has taught me to do anything that comes my way. I realized I could make a living selling grass only after visiting my in-laws in Motoko. Selling grass for a living is something I had never thought of None of the villagers in my area at all.

“I ventured into this business in 2018, mainly selling to neighbors and nearby villages, but as time passed, I started receiving orders from as far away as Bikita Minerals, more than 80 kilometers away and in Buhera, Manicaland Province.

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“Right now I have 13,000 bundles of grass and I sell them for $1 for six.”

Through hard work, Rongai has seen his business grow from strength to strength and is now considering purchasing a grass harvesting machine.

“Given the many requests I receive, I think it would be beneficial to purchase a grass harvester to meet the demand,” he said.

Despite the country’s harsh economic conditions, where more than 90% of able-bodied people are not formally employed and live on less than US$1 a day, Rongai is performing exceptionally well.

“Not only have I been able to provide food for my family, but I have a solar house, the house is fenced, I pay school fees for my children, and I also bought a Scotch cart that I mainly use for my family.” “Daily chores,” he said with a smile.
“Now my main goal for this year is to dig a well and then venture into irrigation, which will make me productive all year round so that I have a reliable source of income, because the grass harvest is seasonal,” he said.

Rongai’s story cannot be complete without mentioning the difficulties he faces in his seasonal trade, which calls for him to be extremely careful and vigilant.

“My job is seasonal because I am busy mainly from May to November, so I have to make the most of my time. Every day when I leave home, I don’t really know what I will encounter in the jungle, where I have encountered many deadly snakes like spitting cobra and black mamba.” “He said, wiping the sweat with the back of his hand while holding his hand. Sickle.

He added: “I face great challenges, especially when harvesting. There is no good road network even for a Scotch vehicle to transport grass, which takes me time to travel a distance of about 8 kilometers or more in search of grass.

“There is a problem of field fires that affect my work. In 2021, my work area was destroyed by fire which led to me stopping work.
In the not too distant future, Rongai hopes to set up a company and become a major supplier of grass, while creating jobs for his fellow villagers.

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    (marks for translation) tavara rongai;  Motoko

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