Value addition in the agricultural sector will improve the livelihoods of Zimbabweans by promoting job creation, Vice President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
He said this after touring the Zangrinda processing plant in Norton and Hunyani Farm in Zvimba.
Zangrinda is involved in fruit and tomato processing while Hunyani Farm is being used as a demonstration plot for the pasture project. Zangrinda, a tomato canning company, is owned by Arda and the Development Trust of Zimbabwe on a 50-50 percent shareholding basis.
VP Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by Mashonaland West Minister of State, Cde Faber Chidarikire and Agricultural Rural Development Authority board chairman, Mr Basil Nyabadza said Zimbabwe was looking at reviving the agriculture sector, including food production and beef export market in the European Union.
He was impressed by the pasture project at Hunyani Farm where 50 hectares of Maluto grass was grown for livestock feed. The grass, which originated from Brazil is fed to livestock as raw or processed into hay bales. It is a perennial crop and lasts up to 15 years.
VP Mnangagwa said production of pastures commercially would reduce pressure on grains such as maize that would be left for human consumption. He said Government was putting efforts in reviving the livestock industry.
“Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko is looking at the resuscitation of abattoirs and the Cold Storage Company while we from the agriculture sector will see on the production of pastures.
“We want to promote primary agriculture which is the production, secondary agriculture which deals with the processing and value addition and we also want to venture into the tertiary which involves marketing,” he said.
He said as the chairperson of the committee on food and nutrition, he was looking at promoting value addition on the farm sites.
He said every province will now be required to produce food and compete with other provinces.
At Zangrinda plant in Norton, VP Mnangagwa applauded Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) for venturing into a food processing partnership with Schweppes where 70 percent of the products was meant for the export market.
“I am delighted that the idea that was mooted by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo long back has now come to fruition. VP Nkomo talked about processing of tomato and at that time, I could not comprehend what he talked about but now I am able to see his vision in reality,” he said.
VP Mnangagwa said the processing of fruits had lessened the burden on farmers around the country who had challenges establishing markets for their perishable produce.
He applauded Arda for resuscitating the processing plant which he said was going to change the lives of farmers.
“This will grow our economy, create employment and improve our own lives. This plant has the potential to change lives of ordinary Zimbabwean households,” he said.
Cde Chidarikire said he was pleased with the resumption of production at the plant.
“The reopening of the plant tells of the Zim-Asset’s drive of value addition and beneficiation. We commend Arda for responding to President Mugabe’s 10-point Plan.
“Mashonaland West has vast tracts of land and water conducive to grow a variety of crops. Setting up of a processing plant will boost production and assist our province to be the breadbasket of the nation. I urge Arda to consider setting up a grain milling plant,” he said.
Mr Nyabadza said activities at Zangrinda were evidence that the 10-point plan highlighted was practical and could be achieved, especially on value addition.
He raised concern that more than 16 000 cattle had succumbed to drought and urged farmers to venture into pasture production to ensure enough supply of stockfeeds.
“We have 50 hectares of special grass from Brazil, called Maluto II. Livestock and humans have been competing for the imported grain but the introduction of this pasture will reduce pressure on maize.
“We are also going to introduce sorghum to replace maize in stockfeeds manufacturing. We should make use of research institutions such as Grasslands Research Station to boost agricultural production,” he said. Herald