Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Chiredzi residents have welcomed the proposed construction of a $15 million university focusing on science and agricultural studies in the town. Most residents and sugar-cane farmers who spoke to The Herald last week put their weight behind the development and expansion of the University of Lowveld (UOL).
The UOL project is being spearheaded by the Conservatory Trust, which is led by managing director Mr Absolom Chikoto. Construction work is set to begin this month.
“The University of Lowveld wishes to promote and unveil modern agricultural practices through teaching programmes and educationally supportive resources to make communities escape limitations of their social groups of origins by offering modern supportive structures,” he said.
Former Commercial Sugar-cane Farmers Association chief executive officer Mr Daniel Tsingo said the university should put more emphasis on research on crops such as sugar-cane. Tertiary institutions, he said, should be at the forefront in helping farmers improve their productive capacity.
“There is nothing wrong with the development of an institution of higher education in Chiredzi because, firstly, it provides us farmers with a readily available manpower source, while it pushes development of our town, province and country at large,” said Mr Tsingo.
“We hope, as cane farmers, the university will have a serious department of agriculture with a bias towards sugar-cane production. They should do more research and tap their pool of knowledge to the Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station, and this would give us farmers more knowledge to improve our yields.”
Chiredzi Residents and Rate Payers Association chairperson Mr Jonathan Muusha said residents had waited for too long for the university project to start. He said the construction of a university was a plus for Chiredzi Town, which is eyeing municipal status by 2018.
“Such an institution will definitely increase business activities in our town,” said Mr Muusha,” he said. “Students need accommodation, food and refreshments, hence the need for us also to be prepared for such a noble idea.” Mr Muusha said the university would give children from the Lowveld a chance to learn in their local environment. This, he said, would also help parents save money since they have had to send their children to institutions far away from the area.