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Amacimbi processing plant set up in Beitbridge District

by Staff reporter
10 Aug 2021 at 05:37hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT in conjunction with development partners has set up the country's first state-of-the-art mopani worm processing plant in Matshiloni area in Beitbridge District, Matabeleland South. The amacimbi processing plant is part of the Second Republic's life-changing interventions in rural communities and is in line with the national thrust to promote value addition and beneficiation.

When a news crew visited the facility recently, some packaged amacimbi was ready for the market. The factory is equipped with a modern machinery consisting of a washing machine, a dryer, a bleaching and packaging machine, which were sourced from China.

Completed in March, the plant has a solar powered well, dryer for the worms, reservoir and a packing factory. Although the centre is yet to be officially opened by President Mnangagwa, it has already started operating. The processing centre is a business hub that providing services, business information and training to all community members involved in the amacimbi value chain.

Situated in a province that sits on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, ecological regions four and five, characterised by a low rainfall, the facility is a game changer for the local community particularly vulnerable groups such as widows, orphans, the elderly and people living with HIV/Aids. Rovhona Raita Co-operative comprising 18 local women, among them widows and youths, initiated the setting up of the processing plant, which is beginning to change their lives.

The project, which is run under the name Mbvelelo (Private) Limited, fits well into the devolution concept which promotes the economic growth of local economies driven by resources within different communities. It is part of the Youth and Women Empowerment Project Youth and Women Economic (E4WAY), a rural economic empowerment initiative which is a partnership between Government, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

AfDB injected $100 000 in the project while ILO is providing technical assistance. Rovhona Raita Co-operative Cooperative is one of the E4WAY target groups identified in seven of the poorest districts of the country. These are Beitbridge (amacimbi), Marondera and Lupane (honey), Guruve (artisanal gold ore milling), Mutasa, Chimanimani, and Mutoko (horticulture).

According to ILO, an estimated combined population of 650 000 with at least 5 000 youths aged between 15 to 35 years and women over 35 years are benefiting from E4WAY and its selected value chains. The direct project beneficiaries include youth and women run SMEs, associations, cooperatives and Vocational Training Centres.

Mbvelelo (Pvt) Ltd board member Mrs Fadzai Muvhango said the amacimbi processing project is transforming local lives. She has managed to enrol her children in university through the profits realised from the project.

"This project came as a huge relief to many local women who previously struggled financially. When we started this project in 2000 we were 42, but the number went down to 18. Government through the Ministry Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development, sourced equipment and other accessories for our factory," she said. "We buy amacimbi and process them at our plant where we thoroughly purify and dry them before packaging them. We have widows, the elderly and youths in this project and the money that we are generating from this project has changed our lives."

Mrs Muvhango said they supply supermarkets across the country. She however, said due to the lockdown regulations, they are facing challenges in terms of accessing some markets.

"We package according to a client's specifications. In fact, we package in packs of 100g for US$1 and 250g which cost US$2. Currently, we have a lot of stock piling in our warehouse, but because of lockdown we cannot access some of our markets," she said.

Rovhona Raita Co-operative secretary Ms Carol Mari said: "As women we are now able to fend for our families. This project is poised to economically transform the face of our district. Initially we used to do barter trade but now we are selling our produce. We hope that we will be able export our products and earn more foreign currency for the country."

Ms Mari said most of their members were widows and single mothers who struggled to raise money for school fees and food.

"We struggled to put food on the table, but with such a vibrant project, we are now able to raise money for schools and put food on the table and all the credit goes to Government and its partners," she said.

Beitbridge West MP Ruth Maboyi said the project is changing many lives in Beitbridge and the province at large.

"We have some people coming all the way from Gwanda and Matobo districts to supply amacimbi particularly this year when Beitbridge didn't get much in terms of harvesting amacimbi. This project is a commitment by Government to empower women in rural areas in line with the devolution policy," she said.

Maboyi said the project is also a vehicle for addressing rural unemployment and gender inequality.

"It should be noted that improving the processing of amacimbi will also improve their economic value, heightening prospects of increased exports to nearby South Africa and Botswana, who have provided ready markets over the years," she said.

Maboyi said the processing of amacimbi enhances consistency of the quality and the supply of the product to the various target markets as well as broadening opportunities for employment creation along the value chain.

Amacimbi is abundant in Matabeleland South mainly in Gwanda, Insiza, Kezi, Mangwe, Beitbridge and Bulilima districts and are mostly collected from the wild. They are considered a delicacy and can be eaten dry, as crispy as potato chips, or cooked and soaked in gravy.

The mopani worms consist of 60 percent protein and are also high in iron and calcium. With the cost of meat prohibitively expensive, mopani worms are an important source of protein.

Their nutritional value is recognised and endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to the extent of recommending the powdered form of the dried worms to be used in porridge to improve dietary feeds for malnourished children. For older people, using them as part of a meal offers the necessary nutrients that curb obesity and address blood pressure and sugar challenges.

Source - chroncile