An assessment of the nursery industry in Manicaland, Zimbabwe in 2008

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2010
10 Pages, Grade: none



Agricultural nurseries are key in the production of horticultural and forestry seedlings. Various nursery media is used to raise these seedlings. The study was aimed at determining the researchers’ views and opinions on the nursery practices that the farmers employ. The survey was carried out to establish the productivity and types of media used in the nursery industry within Manicaland, Zimbabwe. In this study, the survey was conducted at provincial level within five (5) selected districts of Manicaland Province. In each district, all the existing nurseries were selected. Data was analyzed using the descriptive analysis. Nursery holders were classified as entrepreneurs, farmers, local government owned and non –profit making organizations owned. Farmer nurseries were the largest category comprising of 56.4% of the total sampled population. Most of the seedlings were raised in containers with the exception of vegetable seedlings which were raised in seed beds. Nursery media comprising of top soil and compost proved to be most popular amongst nursery owners. Pine media used proved to be least used due to its low water holding capacity and lack of proper extension training on its use.


Investment in forest tree planting is increasing annually. FAO surveys (1993) indicated that forest plantations in the tropics alone expanded from a total of 18 million hectares in 1980 to 44 million hectares in 1990. In tropical and subtropical countries, the majority of trees planted are raised in containers. Nursery research has demonstrated that development of a fibrous root system is essential for good quality seedlings. Root absorptive efficiency is directly related to its surface area and fibrous roots provide greatest surface area. Development of fibrous roots is related to the porosity of the potting mixture which in turn is related to the organic fraction of the mixture. Pine bark is a light weight soiless media which is easy to transport. Organic substrates provide adequate nutrients to the seedlings, better root substrate relation than conventional soil mix and less pre-dispose the seedlings to soil borne pests and diseases (Adams et al., 2003; Akanbi et al., 2002).

The major aims of this work were (1) to assess the types of substrates used in the production of seedlings in five (5) districts in Manicaland and (2) to assess the operations of selected extension and registered nurseries in Manicaland.


In this study, the survey was conducted at provincial level within selected districts of Manicaland Province. The study was aimed to determine the researchers’ views and opinions on the nursery practices that they employ. The study focused on the assessment of different types of nursery media used within selected nurseries and assessment of productivity of extension and registered nurseries. Manicaland Province forms the eastern border of the country. It has an area of 36,459 km² and a population of approximately 1.6 million (2002 census). Mutare is the capital of the province. The province is subdivided into seven districts namely Buhera, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Makoni, Mutare, Mutasa and Nyanga. Nurseries located in Manicaland were considered in the survey. The Forestry Commission Department of Conservation and Extension was selected for informant interviewing because it had initiated extension nurseries within the province so as to encourage afforestation and community awareness in conservation of forests. From the informant interview conducted with personnel from the Forestry Commission Department of Conservation and Extension on the list of nurseries in the province, five districts were chosen because they conduct horticultural nursery culture either as individual initiative or in collaboration with department. From each district, all existing nurseries were considered for study. The number of nurseries in each district (Table 1) varied depending on the individuals working on nursery culture.

Table 1: Number of nurseries per district

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Each district selected was composed of various types of nursery holders. These can be categorized as entrepreneurs, farmers, local government and non–profit making organizations. Entrepreneurs were those who embark on nursery culture for the sole purpose of obtaining income. They could either buy seedlings for further sale from individuals who raise seedlings on their own landholdings or raise their own seedlings or combine both options so as to meet the market demands

Secondary data was used to obtain recorded data on nurseries. Maps showing the location of districts were obtained from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Development. Data pertaining to the Rural Afforestation Project was obtained from Forestry Commission Department of Conservation and Extension library. An informant interviewing was conducted to gather information pertaining to extension nurseries that were initiated by the department with the aim of promoting afforestation and forestry sustenance in the communal areas. Information obtained from the key informant interviews revealed that individual farmers, prison services and schools were working together with the Forestry Commission’s Department of Conservation and Extension to start nurseries.

A questionnaire was designed and administered by the researchers. Visual assessment of the nursery site was also done to make sure that the information that was provided in the survey complied with facts on the ground. Owners of the nurseries comprised individual farmers, entrepreneurs, schools and municipal councils.

A quantitative analysis of the nursery questionnaire was carried out using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Release 11.0. Data was also analyzed using descriptive statistics.


Nursery ownership and land holding

The study showed that entrepreneurs formed 14.3% of the total nursery owners. All the farmers interviewed were working together with Forestry Commission Conservation and Extension personnel. The study found that all the raised seedlings were sold to individuals or other entrepreneurs for resale in urban centres or used within the community to foster forestry development through the reafforestation programmes. All the proceeds went to the farmer. The highest percentages of nursery holders were found to be farmers (56.4%). Local government nurseries are those in the custody of the city or town council. These were the least in number at 4.8%. Local government nurseries were found to be located in Mutare urban district only. They provided seedlings to the residence of the city. Non–profit making organizations comprised of non–governmental organizations (NGO), schools, colleges and prisons. Their main aim for nursery production was to provide seedlings to the community so as to improve community livelihood and dissemination of knowledge. These formed 28.6 % of the total nursery owners.

Table 2 shows the characteristics of the interviewed nursery holdings in Chipinge, Makoni, Mutare Urban, Mutasa and Nyanga, districts. Makoni district had the highest percentage of nursery holdings (28.6%) and all these are still under the supervision of Forestry Commission Department of Conservation and Extension. Nyanga district had the lowest number of nursery ownership (14.3%). Chipinge, Makoni and Mutare Urban had the same number of nursery ownership (19.0%). The average number of nurseries per district was 1.90 (standard deviation (sd): 1.338). Farmer nurseries within the different districts were found to be all working on nurseries as an initiative from the Forestry Commission Department of Conservation and Extension. The nurseries were set-up between 1954 and 2007. 90.5% of the land the nursery belonged to owners of the land. Only 9.5% of the nurserymen were using rented space for their activities. Those who rented had to pay rent ranging between USD 40.00 and USD 50.00 for approximately 200m2 to 300m2.

Table 2: Type of nursery ownership in Manicaland

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Ownership by sex

Women were found to play a big role in nursery production. Their role varied with each enterprise. The survey showed that 14.3% of the nurseries interviewed were owned by women. Chipinge (25%), Mutasa (25%) and Makoni (33.3%) districts had women claiming ownership of the nurseries at 25%, 25% and 333% respectively.

Female ownership came as a result of the male absence as heads of the families in the lives of the women. Death of a spouse and emigration of the spouse to the city were the reasons given by the women for spouse absence. The women had to embark on nursery production so that they can obtain additional income to sustain the families.

85.7% of the nursery enterprises were owned by males or the organizations headed by males with some women participating in the production activities of nursery products. Mutare urban and Nyanga had no female nursery owners. As shown in Figure 1, 19% of the women were assistants in the running of the nurseries. Their duties included maintaining the nursery seedling and propagation of materials for use at the nursery. Proceeds obtained from the sale of the produce would go to the owner of the nursery enterprise who in most cases is male.

The greatest number of enterprises had non participation of women in nursery production (67%) (Figure 1). This was due to some of the nursery owners being entrepreneurs and therefore operated their businesses independent of women involvement. City council workers comprised of women working directly with the products whilst the males were responsible for ferrying produce from one point to the other or the supplying of the media.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Role of women in nursery production

Production area

The area under production varied according to the location, availability of inputs for production and market demand. Production area comprised of space to be used for preparation of the media, raising the seedlings and preparation of the seedlings for market. Most of the area under production was below 100m2 (standard deviation (sd): 1.63). Table 3, shows that 42.9% of the nurseries have a total production area of less than 100m2. These constituted entrepreneurs, farmers and non-profit organizations (Figure 2). Turnover period of time of seedling grown and sold varied with each nursery. During the hot wet season there was a high turnover rate as people would be establishing orchards. The hot dry season was characterized with a low turnover rate. It was observed that though a large portion of land was allocated to nursery production, not all of the land was serving this purpose. Approximately 35% of the land was lying fallow. Container areas were more seedlings under production per unit land than the rest of the land allocated to production.

Table 3: Production area under nursery culture

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Farmer nurseries had the highest total land area in the less than 100m2 group(Figure 2) which was allocated to production as compared to the other groups. As indicated in Table 4.0 shows that 23.8% of the nurserymen had a total production area of more than 800m2. These constituted farmers, local government and non-profit organizations (Figure 2). The study revealed that, all grown nursery species (Table 7) were raised in containers with the exception of vegetable seedlings which were raised in seed beds.


Excerpt out of 10 pages


An assessment of the nursery industry in Manicaland, Zimbabwe in 2008
Africa University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
394 KB
manicaland, zimbabwe
Quote paper
Tawona Honour Matenda (Author)T. Amtaita (Author)M. Mrema (Author), 2010, An assessment of the nursery industry in Manicaland, Zimbabwe in 2008, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


Read the ebook
Title: An assessment of the nursery industry in Manicaland, Zimbabwe in 2008

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free