ED launches rural scheme
Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday launched the Presidential Rural Development Scheme set to benefit more than 1,8 million households as the Second Republic accelerates efforts to alleviate poverty among the rural folks in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
The scheme, which was launched at Sekusile-Makorokoro nutrition garden in Jinjika Village, Makorokoro area of Mangwe District, Matabeleland South, will uplift livelihoods in rural communities through creation of employment opportunities for women and youths, among other vulnerable members of society.
It is also in line with the benchmarks outlined in the Agriculture and Food System Transformation Strategy whose national thrust is to see Zimbabwe achieving a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.
The strategy, which was launched by President Mnangagwa last year in August is underpinned by growing the economy and ensuring Zimbabwe grows its own food and ensure the majority of rural families move from poverty to affluence.
Under the Presidential Rural Development Scheme, Government will drill and equip one borehole in each of the country’s 35 000 villages.
Each village will also be empowered with a nutrition garden with a wide range of fruit trees and sweet potato vines being distributed to households.
Government will also drill 9 600 boreholes for schools while each ward will receive two boreholes for youth horticulture projects.
President Mnangagwa toured the Sekusile-Makorokoro nutrition garden that has horticulture and fishery projects.
Government has engaged the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) to market the produce from the Makorokoro garden.
AMA is mandated with the overall regulation of the production, marketing and processing of agricultural products in Zimbabwe.
Agricultural extension officers supervise Sekusile-Makorokoro nutrition garden, which will be replicated across the country.
Addressing people during the launch of the scheme after touring the project, President Mnangagwa said Government is transforming rural communities through fully exploiting local resources such as land, water and mineral resources.
“The Presidential Rural Development is, thus part of an array of my Government’s efforts to turn around the economic fortunes of our rural communities.
It will enable communities to play a more active part in the ongoing, irreversible economic development agenda,” he said.
“This programme is expected to uplift over 1,8 million households from poverty into prosperity through increased household incomes as well as the creation of employment and empowerment opportunities.”
President Mnangagwa said the launch of the scheme is testimony to Government’s commitment to implement people centred programmes that leave no one and no place behind, particularly rural communities.
“Our mantra that ‘nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’ must continue to inspire villages, rural townships, social institutions, growth points and wards to develop their localities brick by brick, stone upon stone,” he said.
“The Presidential Rural Development Programme recognises that lifting many into prosperity goes hand in hand with strategies that drive economic growth, reduce inequality while improving the health, education and well-being of our people.”
President Mnangagwa said horticulture is an important sub sector of agriculture with a potential to considerably contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through exports given Zimbabwe’s comparative advantages in the production of fruits, flowers and vegetables.
“To this end, the Second Republic is rejuvenating the sector through improved production and productivity efficiencies across the horticulture value chain.
Leveraging on our vast God given land, conducive climatic conditions and hard-working trait of our people, the rebound of the sector is inevitable,” he said.
In the context of the ongoing development of rural industry systems, the President said it is important for the Presidential Rural Development Scheme to create the much-needed critical mass for local value addition and industrial beneficiation.
“To this end, effective management and coordination systems should be urgently implemented to ensure the seamless aggregation of horticulture products at village level.
Complementary plans must be put in place to set up industry facilities and other ancillary infrastructure to reduce post-harvest losses,” he said.
“The development of local factories and handling facilities such as the Mutoko Fruit and Vegetables processing plant in Mashonaland East province is a case in point.
Such facilities are set to unlock our country’s potential to export value added horticultural products into regional and international markets, also taking advantage of market opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
President Mnangagwa said the increased investment in rural areas should be designed to trigger a multiplier effect in the areas of research and development, beneficiation, warehousing as well as transport and logistics, among other aspects.
“This will help further stem rural to urban migration as our rural areas are become highly attractive for our talented professionals and technocrats to stay, live and work.
In this regard, I exhort the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to urgently capacitate and equip beneficiary communities with relevant agricultural, business and entrepreneurial skills as well as market linkages that will improve farm level competitiveness,” he said.
The President said the ongoing programme of building dams across the country is envisaged to also insulate the agriculture sector and economy against the adverse effects of climate change.
Dams under construction include Tuli-Manyange Dam in Matabeleland South, Lake Gwayi-Shangani and Ziminya Dam in Matabeleland North.
President Mnangagwa said the ongoing programmes and activities will help build resilience and adaptation capacities, especially for small holder farming communities.
The President commended women and youths for remaining champions of development against the background of adverse effects of Covid-19 and the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries.
He said their hard honest work, dedication and resilience has seen them becoming the backbone of the agriculture sector. – @mashnets.