Vusumuzi Dube in Gwanda
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday launched the Command Livestock programme at Gwanda Showground to mainly cater for Matabeleland region noting that there was a need to exploit the region’s climatic conditions that are ideal for livestock farming.
President Mnangagwa said Government had noted that due to the varied ecological regions in the country, the Matabeleland region did not perform well in the initial Command Agriculture programme which focused on maize hence the move to design a deliberate programme meant to benefit the region.
The President handed over 1 660 heifers to 151 beneficiaries from Matabeleland South’s seven districts revealing that they had channelled $10 million towards the programme which was going to be shared by Matabeleland North and South.
“About four provinces, Matabeleland North and South, parts of Midlands and Masvingo, cannot grow grain as good as some of the provinces so it is necessary that we identify that which is appropriate for each province and promote that.
“The idea is for the people to improve their livelihoods using livestock and boost the national herd through supporting breeding of livestock. I am thus happy that today we are distributing 1 660 heifers here in Matabeleland South, there is a similar number or more in Matabeleland North as a first round,” said President Mnangagwa.
He called on the beneficiaries of the heifers to seek advice from veterinary officers so that they are able to look after the heifers that they will pay for after five years.
President Mnangagwa said the programme was in line with the Government’s thrust to improve the country’s economy which he said was being supported by the private sector.
“We are financing this programme not from the fiscus. It is the confidence which the private sector has in the current Government. The private sector is willing to give us this money because they know that in five years time we are able to pay back their money with interest but as a Government we would have empowered many families.
“When my administration says Zimbabwe is open for business those who have eyes can see what we are talking about, which is the cattle we are launching today (yesterday), those who have good memories think about the past and from the past picked the few things that were good, so that as we go forward we utilise the lessons that we have learnt in the past.
“The most important lesson coming from the past is the lesson of unity, Zimbabwe is a unitary state and it must remain united as one single Republic of Zimbabwe, kasithandane sibambane, simunye (let us love each other, unite, we are one),” said the President.
He said Government was committed to ensuring that every citizen was empowered economically so that he or she can fend for himself or herself.
“We need every single household to develop, every single household to have food on its table, every single household to send their children to school, every single household to have access to primary health care and every single household to have a shelter.
“To do so we must do business to create wealth. Wealth is created by people who are organised, people with a vision, people who can work together. The poor never come together to celebrate their poorness, it’s only when you have wealth that you can come together and celebrate the good things among yourselves,” said the President.
He said Government had also increased the funding of the Presidential inputs scheme from $30 million to $487 million as it moves to increase productivity in the agriculture sector.
The President said the command livestock initiative would also cover piggery, fisheries, ruminants, wildlife and poultry among others.
He noted that the launch of the programme yesterday came at a time when the Government is working on reviving the Cold Storage Company.
President Mnangagwa said Government had found investors who were willing to inject over $100 million to revive the CSC.
Meanwhile, Cde Mnangagwa said plans were underway to turn Matabeleland South province into a green belt taking advantage of the many water bodies.
“We want these dams to benefit the people hence the plans to establish irrigation schemes that will enable people to cultivate crops throughout the year. In Matabeleland South, we know that there is huge potential to have citrus plantations like in Beitbridge. We should prioritise commercial citrus farming, especially in the Beitbridge district,” he said.
The individuals who received heifers yesterday lauded President Mnangagwa saying they had been empowered to boost their herds.
“As a widow, I am very grateful to our President and the Government for this gesture. This will go a long way in empowering women and other members of the community.
“Prior to this development I had 17 cattle and am hopeful that in five years’ time with this cross-brahman breed one, the number will increase to 50,,” said Ms Sukholuhle Nleya of Dombodema in Plumtree.