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Matabeleland South to lead in agriculture revolution and devolution

by Staff Reporter
22 Dec 2018 at 08:31hrs | Views
MATABELELAND South is set to lead in the country's agricultural revolution emphasising on value addition as the nation implements devolution of power whose thrust seeks to bridge the development gap between rural and urban communities.

In an interview with the Chronicle newspaper, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) board chairperson Mr Basil Nyabadza said his institution whose mandate is to drive rural development, will use projects at Antelope, Ingwizi and Esigodini estates as templates for the establishment similar projects in other provinces. Addressing the recent 17th Zanu-PF Annual People's Conference in Esigodini, Matabeleland South, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said devolution is set to end the days of lopsided development.

"One of the major responsibilities of Arda is rural development so we do welcome very much the issue of devolution and we are pleased that one of most effective ways to generate wealth in every district will be realised under a devolution which is now to be implemented by Government. Matabeleland South mirrors the intentions of Arda through the three projects under Arda Antelope, Arda Ingwizi and Arda Esigodini where we are finishing processing plants for tomatoes and fruits," said Mr Nyabadza.

"What we have at Arda Antelope is production of a number of crops, maize, wheat and soya beans and we are now limited by a planned expansion to build another dam so that we can build our capacity of field work to 3 000 hectares. Now, what we will do is under Arda Antelope and Ingwizi we will have between 4000 and 5 000 hectares under cereal crops which now justifies to set up processing plants after installation of dryers and silos."

Mr Nyabadza said Arda Antelope already has silos and drying facilities that would see them migrating from summer to winter cropping in the shortest possible time giving time for improved yields.

"This is why in region five we are now attaining between eight to ten tonnes per hectare of either crop except of course for soya beans where we hope to do between 3,5 to 5 tonnes per hectare which is quite high by Zimbabwean standards.

"The next phase after production is processing and we are saying we already have a milling facility located at Maphisa Growth Point under a Public Private Partnership arrangement that means we propose to grow, process and pack mealie-meal for urban cities like Bulawayo and other consumer bases like Beitbridge and Francistown. This then means retention of value within the province," said Mr Nyabadza.

This then means our product would be competitive and value retention and creation of jobs at source based in other words where raw materials are found, jobs must be created to process, pack and transport to the market. If we do that in our eight rural provinces, I believe it is the winning formula."

Mr Nyabadza said production, processing and packaging of the various products should be rooted in the provinces with the cities as consumer centres.

"We are saying at least each province must have a milling plant which will do, maize meal, flour and stock feeds then the stock feed will feed the livestock within the same province.

"The model taking place in Matabeleland South should be replicated in the shortest possible time certainly under agriculture as we believe that will speak to our mandate as Arda," he said.

"In the past there was a belief that Matabeleland region was only good for livestock but we have proved over the last few years that it's more than livestock. We are setting up the biggest plantation of pecan nuts at Arda Balu that is in Matabeleland North, and we will set up a processing plant, the biggest in Southern Africa, not just Zimbabwe so there is value in our land."

Mr Nyabadza hailed President Mnangagwa's commitment to implement devolution saying Arda, on the agricultural sector, was well placed from ward level to offer technical assistance to achieve the agricultural revolution. He said the water development must take precedence through PPPs that would not only provide water for irrigation but also generate hydro power.

Source - Chronicle