Victor Maphosa Mashonaland East Bureau
President Mnangagwa is today expected to commission the Tabudirira Fruit and Vegetable Processing Hub in Mutoko, a project which is aimed at empowering youths and promote value addition.
The plant is in line with Vision 2030 of an empowered upper middle income economy, as anchored on the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, the hub was funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with the International Labour Organisation as it’s technical partner.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution responsible for Mashonaland East Province, Aplonia Munzverengwi, confirmed the visit by President Mnangagwa.
“All is now in place for his arrival tomorrow (today) for the commissioning of the Fruit and Vegetable Processing Hub. Mutoko is a horticultural district full of vegetables and fruits and these have in the past, been sent to Harare but our community now is going to benefit through the processing plant here at Tabudirira Vocational Training Centre,” said Minister Munzverengwi.
Commenting on the project on his twitter handle recently, Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, said the project would be a boost for Mutoko and surrounding areas.
“President @edmnangagwa will always have Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe close to his heart. This is why in a few weeks he will be launching the Fruit and Veg Hub in Mutoko. The launch of the Fruit and Veg Hub is going to be a boon for the farmers in Murewa, Mutoko and UMP,” said Mr Mangwana.
Deputy Director responsible for Communications and Advocacy for the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Mr Ranson Madzamba, said the processing hub seeks to create employment opportunities for youths along the agro-processing value chain.
“It seeks to facilitate the creation of markets and market linkage for fruits and vegetables produced by young farmers in Mashonaland East. The hub shall increase income levels for young farmers in Mutoko District and Mashonaland East at large. The creation of the hub will definitely reduce post-harvest losses in the horticulture sub sector. It is true, with all these efforts from the Government, the dream to have an upper middle income society by 2030 can be achieved without doubt,” he said.
Components of the project include Food Value Addition and Enterprise Development.
Women and youth involved in horticultural production face high post-harvest losses and low prices as a result of frequent oversupply, short product shelf lives and absence of processing facilities.
Farmers end up flooding Mbare Musika in Harare and traveling long distances in the back of lorries instead of concentrating on production.
The project has established a company, Mutoko Royal Fruits and Veggies jointly owned by the farmers who hold 60 percent shareholding and Government 40 percent. Of the Government shareholding, the local vocational training centre holds 10 percent.
The 60 percent shareholding of youth and women private business corporations is held by three entities, Green Set Horticulture, Kubatana Tomato Production and Chiruka Mari Horticulture.
Each has 20 percent shares.
This model promotes ownership of the project by locals.
They benefit from sales to the company and also from dividends declared.