VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday emphasised the need for harnessing water and revitalising agricultural infrastructure to boost food security. VP Mnangagwa was at Arda Antelope Estate in Matabeleland South to assess progress made so far at the estate that is undertaking a massive maize and wheat project. Two silos with a combined capacity of 1 300 tonnes of maize have been constructed at the estate.
The maize is being harvested, while the planting of the wheat started yesterday. The project kicked off last year, after Trek Petroleum injected more than $2,7 million in the vast estate, in a bid to enhance food security.
The VP commended Arda and Trek for their partnership, which was expected to feed the whole of Matabeleland South province. “It’s important for us to fully utilise the land that is at our disposal. We must extract value from our land, harness it and make sure that we’re able to feed our families, our province and other provinces as well. “I’m impressed with what’s happening here because this is exactly what Zim-Asset and the 10-Point Plan calls for, as articulated by President Mugabe,” the Vice President said.
“The partnership has brought food insufficiencies to an end, and as Government, we’re committed to giving the project our support so that it moves forward. Antelope estate can produce more than 5 000 hectares of maize, wheat or any other crop. The Government definitely wouldn’t worry about food relief for this province,” he said.
The VP was also impressed with the 700 head of cattle belonging to villagers grazing at the estate. He said plans were underway to have an agro-processing plant at the estate so that crops are not taken to other provinces for value addition.
“We want to have a processing plant here so that Arda can plant its crops, grow, harvest, store, process and sell without seeking services from anybody. We want to do away with the importation of grain but this can only be achieved by being united working hard to feed ourselves.
“All the available water bodies must also be utilised fully during summer and winter so that we don’t run out of food. For us to achieve want stability and peace in the country, we need to grow, develop and mechanise our agricultural sector,” said the VP.
He said Government had identified 2 000 hectares of land in Mangwe to grow pastures for more than 60 000 head of cattle, a move that is meant to mitigate the effects of drought. Arda Antelope Estate manager Mr Alec Chinyai said the maize project was affected by power cuts and high temperatures.
“We’re currently sending our maize to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and we also selling to the local buyers at the GMB price of $390 per tonne,” said Chinyai.
VP Mnangagwa was accompanied by the Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs Cde Abednico Ncube, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Cde Obedingwa Mguni and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation responsible for cropping Cde Davis Marapira