Ebenezer Training Centre at Matobo, South of Bulawayo, began its life in 2007. Run by the Ebenezer Trust, it is an initiative to equip young people in rural Zimbabwe with the practical skills needed to run their own small-scale agricultural businesses.
The holistic, integrative approach combines business, agriculture, life skills and encouragement in their spiritual lives. The vision and hope is that this will develop men and women who can provide for their families and be mature leaders in their rural communities. During the two year residential programme, the principle is that they are able to make enough profit from their work and business to help pay their way and buy the livestock and equipment needed to continue their business at home.
Ebenezer Training Centre is beginning to see its vision of young people positively affecting their communities come to fruition. This is providing the encouragement to continue to push towards the original goal of having up to 150 apprentices on site.
By the end of 2016, 50 hectares (over 123 acres) of land were under irrigation and it’s planned to eventually have a total of over a 100 hectares. In the early days, the original fields were created by clearing the bush by hand as in the photos above; the land being transformed to enable the growing of various crops such as maize, tomatoes, butternut, cabbage and onions – planted and harvested according to the seasons. See the photos below:
Ebenezer have a herd of Jersey dairy cows. The original herd of 50 increased to 101 by August 2017 and more calves are expected. The cows being milked are producing an excellent daily average.
The apprentices are also taught how to rear chickens, both for the production of meat and eggs.
The layers produced 2,022,085 eggs in 2016 – that’s a lot of eggs! The apprentices farm up to 18,000 broiler birds on site at any one time.
In the latter half of 2015, a grove of 247 Pecan saplings was planted. They are beginning to grow foliage and become established, but it will be several years before the trees produce a profitable harvest. As well as planting the saplings, Pecans are being germinated from seed and a Pecan nursery has been created which could see up to 20,000 seedlings being produced.
Brilliant Khoza (on the left), was one of the first Ebenezer apprentices in 2007. He is now a Field Coach/Trainer with a number of responsibilities. These include overseeing the development of the production of Pecan seedlings and the enlargement of the nursery. Although slow growing, Pecan trees continue to live and produce fruit for a very long time. Pecan nuts command good prices and the trees are a great potential investment for farmers and small holders.
Tomato Processing Plant
An exciting development in 2018 was the commissioning of the new tomato processing plant in Bulawayo. This plant will provide a steady market for the processing-type tomatoes grown at Ebenezer. It is also great to know that Ebenezer graduate, Nontobeko Mhlamba, is excelling in her role as a Turning Matabeleland Green Field Ofﬁcer. Nontobeko is training small-scale farmers across Matabeleland in how to grow ‘processing tomatoes’ as well as helping them with the logistics of transporting their produce to the plant.