Zvamaida Murwira and Conrad Mupesa
UNIVERSITIES and higher education colleges must provide solutions to national needs and come up with innovative and industrious means towards production of goods and services in line with Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), President Mnangagwa said on Friday.
Commissioning the multi-million dollar dairy milking parlour on the Hunyani Farm of the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), he said universities should remain agents and champions for the transformation of livelihoods through innovation-driven solutions.
President Mnangagwa visited the farm after capping 2 436 CUT graduates. The farm is carrying out value addition and beneficiation of milk from the university’s dairy herd.
Tertiary institutions needed to be centres of innovation and production with the President noting that the Agro-Industrial Park at CUT and similar parks at other universities were examples of how tertiary education institutions could nurture practical aspects of production and productivity.
With the introduction of heritage based Education 5.0, universities had moved away from being ivory towers of knowledge for knowledge’s sake as evidenced by institutions coming up with innovative and life changing productions including the CUT’s milking parlour and artificial insemination programme.
“Universities and other institutions of higher learning need to provide solutions to societal problems. They must accelerate the quest to be centres of excellence for purposes of empowering communities around them to draw lessons.
Chinhoyi University of Technology is well positioned to become a key in the development and application of science and technology for Mashonaland West and national development.
The university was commended for rolling out a robust artificial insemination programme for the production of adequate semen to boost the quality of the national livestock herd.
“The commercial production of animal feed to supplement free range grazing for our livestock and wildlife is also applauded,” said President Mnangagwa and its pastures development programme would complement the ongoing Presidential pastures development initiative which also serves to empower smallholders in and around the province.
“The flagship cattle breeding and artificial insemination programme by Chinhoyi University of Technology provides the building blocks for commercial beef production development and other value chain products. The university is thus, now pivotal in improving the quality and quantity of our livestock and livestock products across the country,” he said as a scientifically-informed leadership could see that strengthening and restocking national herd was the key to bolder production.
Turning to the milking parlour, President Mnangagwa, who emphasised development of the nation brick-by-brick, said the project was going to help modernised dairy milk production and processing systems for the university and surrounding farmers while helping the Agricultural Recovery Plan.
“This investment should not be an end in itself. Therefore, it is my expectation that the innovative young men and women passing through this institution develop value added dairy products, leveraging on the milk produced at this parlour.
“CUT is urged to open up this facility to communities to develop viable dairy enterprises. This student centred facility should also afford farmers an opportunity to learn the skills and best practice of running dairy projects,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa who commissioned the Gemplasm Laboratory and Innovation Hub at the University last year, said he was keen to know the extent of the consolidation of the various products from the initiatives and level of market penetration and revenue levels.
He called for scaled up promotion of synergies, corporation and collaboration towards the “farming as a business philosophy”.
In her welcoming remarks, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution responsible for Mashonaland West Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said the project was a reflection of the commitment by President Mnangagwa to drive national development initiatives towards an upper middle income economy by 2030.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the tertiary education since 2018 has been emphasising education that promotes production of goods and services through modernisation and industrialisation strategies.
Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri commended President Mnangagwa for embarking on several infrastructure projects that has transformed the fortunes of the country.
CUT Vice Chancellor, Professor David Simbi said at its peak, the milking parlour will handle between 500 to 600 dairy cows to make a significant contribution to the country’s milk supply.
“The unit also houses equipment for the production of milk products that include cheese, yoghurt and sour milk as well as offering students training facilities, and a diagnostic laboratory education,” he said. The institution has a herd of 102 dairy cows including heifers and this should grow to between 300 and 400 cows.
The university is harnessing untried but traditionally-known food preservative technology to further emphasise the value of culture and heritage in human existence.
The event was attended by Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, legislators, Vice Chancellors from other universities and senior Government officials.