The Sunday News
Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
THE establishment of a cattle business centre in Mwenezi has brought a new ray of hope to local farmers as it is set to boost livestock productivity in the area.
The initiative, a creation of the Government and the European Union (EU) is set to support small and medium scale beef farmers in Zimbabwe and is in line with the Government’s policy of ensuring rural development. Lapache Cattle Business Centre is located about 20 kilometres from Rutenga Business Centre in Mwenezi along the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway.
It was established under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme- Beef Enterprises Strengthening and Transformation (ZAGP-BEST) project and has served the community through lucrative beef output market. Speaking during the official opening of the centre, the community chairperson, Mr Venganai Shoko, said the project will assist farmers in getting real value for their livestock as before when they were being ripped off by middlemen.
“Through this project the farmers are able to get better value for their livestock than to sell to middlemen who would end up fleecing you of your money and so we would want to thank EU for the support and the awareness that we should not sell our cattle through the middlemen.
“As a community we are set to benefit from the business centre as we will get market for our cattle, value addition that is through the feedlots, getting good prices for our cattle, hay bales are readily available, bulling services for better breeds and access to drugs. I am happy and I would want to testify that this project will improve our livelihoods, we will be able to send our children to school.”
The business centre comprises two major components which are the 35-hectare irrigated pasture facility and a 60 head capacity cattle feedlot. The farmers from the villages and the surrounding areas are able to access the hay bales at a subsidised price.
Mwenezi District’s economy is hinged on livestock production and the 35-hectare irrigation under a centre pivot will go a long way in easing challenges of limited pastures and frequent droughts. Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Ezra Chadzamira said it was the Government’s thrust to develop rural communities using local resources for the attainment of Vision 2030.
“We are here to officially commission the Lapache Cattle Business Centre which focuses more on the irrigation of pastures and the purchasing of cattle. We are now moving from the urban areas to the rural areas for the development of rural industrialisation. President Mnangagwa has encouraged that in all our rural areas we should create employment, factories using our local resources,” he said.
Department of Veterinary Services chief director Dr Josphat Nyika said such an initiative complements the Government’s livestock growth programme and speaks to rural development.
“As a Ministry we are focusing on rural development and this BEST project speaks very well to the rural development. Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy but livestock is the backbone of agriculture and so if we strengthen the livestock sector we would have strengthened rural development.”