MUAST new campus, admin block take shape
Victor Maphosa Mashonaland East Bureau
CONSTRUCTION of the new administration block and campus for Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology (MUAST) is taking shape with the authorities expressing satisfaction with the progress to date.
The campus and administration offices are being built in Cloverhill farm, next to Grasslands High School, about 7 km from Marondera town.
Speaking during a media tour of the site in Marondera yesterday, MUAST vice chancellor Professor Justice Nyamangara said regardless of the set-backs induced by funds challenges, construction process is progressing well.
Currently, the University is temporarily housed at the Cold Storage Commission offices in the industrial area of Marondera.
“As you can see we are constructing offices here at Cloverhill farm and according to our master plan this building is going to be the central analytical laboratories to help farmers with all their needs, but for now we are going to use them as offices, so we will house the executive.
“We want to move from where we are temporarily housed and we want to do that in the next six to eight months. At the moment construction of the offices have reached the lintel level. All the building material is there and if there are no disturbances we hope that the first part of the building will be completed this year and we will be able to move in.
“There will be enough offices to house all the people at our current headquarters,” he said.
Already, the foundation of the main campus has been completed and now constructors will soon start erecting pillars which will support the whole structure.
Prof Nyamangara said that as an institution they are satisfied with the progress to date.
On the farming side, MUAST, the only fully fledged agricultural university in Zimbabwe is putting 140 ha of land under wheat and has already started planting the crop for this winter season. The university is utilising water from the just commissioned Muchekeranwa Dam for the irrigation of their crop.
Already, six centre pivots have been installed for the purpose of irrigating wheat and the university is optimistic of a good crop and eventually a bumper harvest.
“We have finished putting all the infrastructure and our centre pivots are now installed. We want to put about 140 ha under wheat this season, however, we are clearing more land so we might have more land under wheat.
“We began the planting process this week and this is our first time to plant wheat. We have six centre pivots and we are getting water from Muchekeranwa Dam so planting is in progress.
Meanwhile, the establishment of the agro-industrial park of the university is advancing after Government availed funds towards equipping the innovation and agro-industrial park with the state-of-the-art irrigation infrastructure and equipment.
Being an agricultural university, MUAST’s faculty structure reflects its needs: Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship and Earth and Environmental Sciences.
They offer degrees that are aligned to fulfil the requirements of Education 5.0. The agro-industrial park is a product of the Government’s new strategic policy which mandates universities and other tertiary institutions to be drivers of innovation and Industrialisation for the provision of goods and services to the economy.
The primary mandate of the MUAST Agro-Industrial Park is to spearhead agricultural practices that constitute the entire value chain of livestock and crops to embrace the Education 5.0 model.
The park will be used as a teaching laboratory for students where they will be exposed to highly mechanised and precision farming and this will ensure that on graduation they will be highly competent in crop and livestock production.
“Next year, we will start on the processing and value addition to make the park fully functional,” Prof Nyamangara said.