By Byron Mutingwende
Born and bred in rural Marondera where farmers used organic farming to grow crops, Clive Nyapokoto experienced the hard and intense labour involved in the daily farm activities which sometimes he had to do before going to school in the morning. That background motivated him to come up with innovations to improve the productivity of organic farming through the use of modern technologies. This would also include using resources efficiently.
“I started the Shift Organic Technologies, a start-up company focusing on integrated smart organic farming systems in 2014. I am studying towards a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Software Engineering at the Harare Institute of Technology. I am now in my final year and will graduate in 2018. I hold certificates in permaculture design, nutrition gardening, soil and water conservation, beekeeping and environmental auditing among others. Shift Organic Technologies areas of focus include aquaponics, vertical gardening, vermiculture, indoor gardening, container gardening, beekeeping, small livestock, nursery and fruit trees, vegetables, herbs and mushroom production,” Nyapokoto said.
The young entrepreneur has managed to develop a smart integrated organic farming system called the Vermi-Aquaponics (VA) system, which combines vermiculture, aquaponics, small livestock and Information Communication Technology (ICT). The system utilises animal waste in the provision of nutrients for the plants and Information Communication Technology is used to remotely monitor and manage the system through any Internet enabled device.
Clive has also managed to implement the same technology into bee keeping.
He got assistance from paNhari in November 2014, which enabled him to upscale his project from a prototype to a large system, which is currently work in progress in Marondera Svosve communal lands. He has also implemented the same project in Mbare, Chegutu, Harare CBD and Merehwa.
The V.A System got a grant to move from prototype to implementation in November 2014 form PaNhari an amount of US$1500. The system won the Energy Globe National award in 2016. In July 2015 the system was among some of the top 40 innovations in Zimbabwe at the innovation baraza. In December 2015 the Idugu Institute selected the system in the top 16 of agro- based innovation. In April 2016 the Project was chosen to be part of the Zimbabwe social entrepreneurship boot camp, a programme being funded by the United States embassy for six months of intensive training on how to run social enterprises in Zimbabwe.
In September 2016, Clive won the first prize at the Zimbabwe ICT Innovation Showcase. In November 2016, the VA system was showcased at the International Telecommunications Union conference in Thailand. In June 2017 we won US$30 000 grant through the internet society to implement the VA system in Mbare, this will be implemented on two public sites and the project will run for the next two years. In June 2017 Shift Organic Technologies won the Most Innovative Business Award at the Dirupt!Food regional Conference.
He presented his greening work at the launch of the Green enterPRIZE Innovation and Development Project by the Embassy of Sweden and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Office for Zimbabwe and Namibia in Harare on Monday 11 December 2017.
The project seeks to support and stimulate the market for green products and services through expansion of access to skills for green jobs and through the greening of existing enterprises through the EnterPrize Business Challenge. The ultimate goal is the creation of 3 000 green and decent jobs for young women and men, through sustainable enterprises. It is also aimed at answering the “sustainable growth, productivity and jobs” questions by focusing on gender equality, green skills, green entrepreneurship and responsible business practices.
According to ILO, unemployment in Zimbabwe is 11 percent with 94 percent of those jobs informal – putting workers in an unacceptable situation of poor working conditions and working poverty. The statistics also show that 22% of workers are unpaid, an additional 9% is paid in kind (mostly women), 83% of workers in Zimbabwe are unskilled.
“High informality means that entrepreneurship is driving the economy. Women are at the forefront as they own 54% of SMEs. More and better jobs can be created by promoting an enterprise culture within which cooperative and private enterprises strive for better livelihoods and for higher productivity and sustained competitiveness of enterprise, while respecting workers’ rights.
By the end of the EnterPrize project, the country should have in existence an improved pool of sustainable SMEs where young women and men equipped with green technical and entrepreneurial skills are implementing economic activities in the green economy.
Sweden’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sofia Calltorp said, “Sweden gives high priority to the creation of green and decent jobs, particularly for youths and women. We believe that productive, sustainable and decent work is key to green economic development and reduction of poverty, particularly in light of the dual challenge of climate change and youth unemployment.”
According to the ILO Country Director for Zimbabwe and Namibia, Hopolang Phororo, “Decent work is central to the achievement of SDGs. It calls for effective and innovative partnerships, such as the one we have with the Government of Sweden, to respond to many challenges and opportunities presented by SDGs.”
Tendayi Marowa, the Technical Committee Vice Chairperson of the Emissions and Climate Technical Committee as well as the Energy Technical Committee of the Business Council for Sustainable Development of Zimbabwe (BCSDZ) said greening enterprises has multi-pronged benefits including financial, environmental and social goals.
“Many companies have reduced their carbon footprint as a result of implementing Green initiatives. This project comes at an appropriate time when Zimbabwe is implementing the NDCs and has set a target of reducing GHG emissions by 33%. This project and other initiatives will go a long way in improving industrial ecology, industrial symbiosis and ability of local enterprises to be competitive. This project will also ensure the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Marowa said.
The BCSDZ is also pioneering in the Green Industry Initiative and is in the process of coordinating implementation of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) project on water and energy efficiency.