Conrad Mupesa-Mashonaland West Bureau
THE Mhondoro-Ngezi community is excited about the opportunities that are set to accrue to them following the official launch of the US$15 million cattle ranching project by President Mnangagwa yesterday.
The project, which has given the community renewed hope, took place at Zimplats in Mhondoro.
Most communities in Chegutu and Mhondoro-Ngezi districts lost a lot of their cattle in previous years due to theirolesis (January disease).
A lot of the farmers are presently rebuilding their lost herd.
While President Mnangagwa and the Government are working on supporting farmers through Command Livestock and the Tick Grease programmes, the new cattle ranching project is expected to help the community greatly.
It is a joint venture between Zimplats and Palmline Investments.
The project is on an 11 000-hectare area under Zimplats’ lease.
Although the project partners are still working with the community leadership including traditional chiefs and the Mhondoro-Ngezi Rural District Council on the benefits in place, it is the free herd hybridisation programme that has excited the community.
Speaking after the launch of the project, Chief Ngezi, born Mr Peter Pasipamire, said the project was of great economic value to the two rural districts.
“We are excited that this project is benefiting us directly. While there are many direct and indirect benefits that we, as surrounding communities are expected to get, we are happy that a free crossbreeding programme has been tabled.
“It is through this initiative that we seek to bolster our cattle herds that were wiped out by the January Disease. Most smallholder farmers lost cattle due to lack of knowledge and we anticipate that through the two partners’ promises, many people will learn through knowledge and skills transfer,” he said.
Chief Murambwa and Chief Rwizi also said the crossbreeding programme will improve the quality of local herds that would resist or fight diseases while knowledge from experts will also help reduce deaths.
Zimplats head of corporate affairs Mrs Busi Chindove said the free crossbreeding programme was part of the company and its partner’s corporate social responsibility.
A local farmer and Chief Chivero’s village head, Ms Shelter Musikandu whose cattle died of January Disease, said the cattle ranching project would support her agricultural activities.
She had to rely on borrowed cattle in the past two summer cropping seasons.
Apart from the breeding programme, the project is also expected to unlock opportunities for employment for youths and women in the area, thereby improving living standards.
“We will plant grass that the company will purchase from us to feed the cattle and this will economically sustain most families from the areas while women are poised to provide labour at the dairy parlour to be constructed,” said Chief Ngezi.
Mhondoro-Ngezi council chairman, Mr Ephraim Chengeta said the project was going to see an increased number of employees who will subsequently acquire residential land from council in line with its vision of expanding into a town.
Already the Turf Township has at least 15 000 residents and 5 000 non-residents most of whom are employed directly or indirectly by Zimplats.
Zanu PF Sanyati District Coordinating Committee (DCC) chairman and National Business Council of Zimbabwe president, Cde Langton Mabhanga, said the project was a game-changer for the community and the entire nation.