Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
SCHWEPPES Africa Limited subsidiary, Beitbridge Juicing Private Limited has donated a drip irrigation system worth $7 000 to the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic in Gwanda.
Speaking during the handover ceremony at the college on Friday, Schweppes Holdings managing director, Mr Charles Msipa said the donation was part of efforts by his organisation to revitalise the horticulture and agricultural industry.
He said the drip irrigation system was the third donation to be handed over to the institution since 2015.
“We started a partnership with the institution two years back where we decided that each year we would donate something to the horticulture department to improve learning conditions for students.
“In 2015 we donated a greenhouse and last year we donated a borehole and all these donations are valued at $25 000 including the one we are handing over today. Our aim is to revitalise the horticulture and agricultural industry and we realised that one way to do this was to capacitate learning institutions,” he said.
Mr Msipa said they were prepared to continue with this initiative. He said they had also partnered with the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) to resuscitate a tomato processing plant in Norton. He said plans were underway to establish a similar plant in Esigodini.
Matabeleland South Provincial Agritex Officer, Ms Simangaliphi Ngwabi, who was the guest of honour said private public partnerships were crucial in reviving and developing the country’s agricultural sector.
She called on Government to explore different methods of financing and improving educational processes within the agricultural sector.
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic College Vice Principal, Mrs Concelia Mswela, expressed gratitude to Schweppes Holdings.
“We appreciate the role played by Schweppes Limited to assist us produce fully-fledged agriculturalists that will be relevant to the economy. We appeal to them to continue doing this good work and we also urge other members of the corporate world to partner us and help improve conditions of learners,” she said.
Mr Stanley Musagara, a lecturer in the Department of Horticulture at the institution said the intervention by Schweppes had helped improve student and teacher outcomes. He said students had now been exposed to various learning equipment, which had improved their learning.
He said the 192 square metres greenhouse, which is eight metres wide, 24 metre long and four metres high had enabled the students to grow a variety of crops for use at the kitchen college and for sale to the community. He said the drip irrigation system had been installed on a 2 700 square metre land, which was going to see students cultivating crops throughout the year.