Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
A SOLAR-powered animal healthcare centre and warehouse have been commissioned in Matjinge, Bulilima in Matabeleland South.
The commissioning event attracted more than 300 farmers, members of the Rural District Development Committee and some non-governmental organisations.
Speaking at the ceremony Mrs Zamani Ndlovu, the Bulilima Agricultural Development Association (BADA) spokesperson said the warehouse is used as an agro dealer for veterinary and crop pesticides for farmers thereby cutting costs that farmers used to incur travelling to Plumtree (45km) in search of the chemicals.
“It serves four dip tanks with 9 000 cattle. Vegetable farmers also benefit from pesticides. The warehouse shall be used to store stock feed, farm inputs and drought relief grain,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
She said the $25 100 project acquired funding through a USAid supported El Nino drought mitigation project and local community contribution.
Mrs Ndlovu said the community worked with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Linkages for the Economic Advancement of the Disadvantaged (LEAD).
She said the Government went through a community consultation process to determine viable projects on which the first generation funds from stock feed, sorghum and cow peas seed sales could be utilised.
“Among many projects that were suggested for implementation in the district is Matjinge warehouse. The Bulilima Agriculture Development Association (BADA) having been formed earlier on was the facilitator, entrepreneurial hub and steering holder in expediting appropriate usage of the funds,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
“The project meant to form the headquarters and nucleus of the association was built over a period 55 days from land clearing to day of commissioning. BADA contributed 70 percent ($17 500) towards the project while 30 percent came from the community.”
Bulilima District Administrator Mrs Ethel Moyo commended the programme for complementing Government efforts in eliminating poverty in communities.
“The just ended agricultural season gave us good yields despite the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Dineo in February.
“In 2016 we recorded 421 poverty induced livestock deaths, reflecting a decrease from 578 recorded in 2015. This was due to the impact of the stock feed intervention brought by our partners,” said Mrs Moyo.
She said Cyclone Dineo destroyed 309 homesteads while farmers lost 65 cattle, 183 goats, 38 donkeys and 2250 chickens.
“These statistics reflect a gap that requires an inclusive approach to development by partners to replace the lost assets,” said Mrs Moyo.
She commended the recent rehabilitation of 10 boreholes across the district by BADA.
The DA encouraged people living with disabilities to venture into farming.
“Your contribution to the development of sustainable agriculture systems is paramount to the achievement of national development strategies, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and an evidence of effective Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Disabilities should not hinder empowerment,” she said.
Chief Ndiweni and Chief Kandana were among the traditional leaders who attended the ceremony.