Agri-village model a success

Driven by the desire to develop the drought-prone and underdeveloped Chikuku area in Bikita, the deputy minister of Local Government, Sesel Zvidzai, and his colleagues have been hailed by the locals for coming up with a model village, the Chikuku Agri-village.

“The agri-village development plan is designed to re-develop the village to have a business-orientated focus. It will provide market-driven agricultural production to benefit members/families in the village with food security, employment creation and economic development,” said Zvidzai.

So far, the agri-village is composed of three members selected from the districts of Ziruvi, Machinge, Mugombwi, Hasha, Gungwe, Rehwai, Mataga, Mufari, Mamutse, Murefu, Zihumo and Nechakozha .

Support for farmers

“The Agri-hub will consist of an agri-hub, commercial agricultural production, marketing, linking and supporting other farmers, an intensive system of production and employment creation, among other things,” said Robson Zimuto, a consultant at the Agricultural Development Trust and founding director of the Chikuku Agri-village.

Once market research has been carried out, products will be branded and intensively produced in commercial greenhouses, or processing plants. The community will be responsible for adding value to the products in terms of processing, packaging and forwarding the products. ‘This will provide employment opportunities for villagers. In its early days, the project will bring skilled personnel in from outside the area, with the aim of training local people to run the initiative on their own.

Security for villagers

The village will establish a company that will own and manage the businesses from the agri-village. 50 percent of the company will be owned by the village.

They will also establish a non-profit wing which will ensure social development by exploring social issues such as gender inequality, youth needs, HIV and AIDS education, environment, health, recreation and food security. One of the project members, Yulina Mutingwende, was upbeat that agri-business would bring many benefits to the community. “The use of automatic commercial greenhouses will see us produce vegetables on a large scale that we will sell to a variety of customers including households and supermarkets. Livestock production will ensure we have meat and milk readily available. Thus there will be food security among villagers in this drought-stricken community,” she said.

“We will also be assured of employment creation, skills development and environmentally sound production systems that will not only be beneficial to us the dwellers of Chikuku but to the whole Masvingo province and the nation at large,” said Titus Kuvenga, a member of the Chikuku Agri-village.

Zvidzai, whose Chinoyera cattle rearing project is a success story in Bikita, was optimistic that agri-business would empower local villagers.

“Due to climate change effects and the socio-economic conditions of the country, production initiatives which involve controlled atmosphere and market driven agriculture are more appropriate, compared to the conventional agricultural systems.

Relevant technologies are available elsewhere and what is required is to develop strategies that enhance technological transfer to the village. It should be noted that establishment of the agri-village might be very costly at the beginning, but once people have the skills and infrastructures, then it becomes worth the investment in the long run,” said Zvidzai.

Post published in: Agriculture

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