Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
The University of Zimbabwe has ventured into maize milling that has seen it producing at least 30 tonnes of maize-meal per month. This emerged during a tour of the university and its farm by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology yesterday. UZ vice chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura told the committee that the enterprise was paying off.

“We started milling in September last year from the harvest that we produced. Now we are getting about $600 per tonne instead of about $390 if we sold them without value-addition,” said Prof Nyagura.

“This is in line with Zim-Asset on value-addition. We are planning to venture into serious milling where we buy maize from other people and do the milling.

“We are milling for clients who have shops throughout the country. We do the packaging as well. But we also sell to clients who come to buy here directly.”

Farm manager, Mr Collins Chizhande said they expected the business to continue blossoming.

The farm has 1 735 hectares with 735 being arable.

“This year we are expecting about 1 500 tonnes of maize from the 360 hectares under plantation. We also expect 300 tonnes from 150 hectares of soya beans. We also have 30 hectares of seed maize where we expect 105 tonnes and sugar beans we have seven hectares so we expect to harvest about 10,5 tonnes,” said Mr Chizhande.

He said they also had 122 hectares for trials, research and demonstrations while cabbages took about two hectares.

The committee was taken through various facilities that have been put in place to accommodate students who will be joining the institution following the decision by authorities to introduce a second intake.

The MPs were taken to halls of residence that have computer laboratories and the new block that is expected to accommodate at least 1 000 students.

The institution has also introduced bunk beds in order to accommodate more students.

It now has capacity to accommodate about 6 000 students at a time, from about 3 500 before it introduced the double intake.

The Dean of Students, Dr Munyaradzi Madambi said the institution put various mechanisms in place to ensure comfort for students.

“In terms of accommodation, we prioritise first year students, medical students and students with disabilities,” he said.

“At the moment we have 6 200 beds but only 5 000 have been occupied so far while the other 1 000 are still available. The reason they have not been taken up has to do with costs as some of them cannot afford them. They are paying $400 per semester full board.”

However, the Students Representative Committee (SRC) told the committee that they were not happy with a number of things.

“The university made some undertakings that they would address but they have not done so,” said SRC president, Tonderai Dombo.

“For instance they just increased capacity in the hostels but they did not increase the service. The hostels are understaffed which has resulted in deterioration of services.”

SRC secretary-general, Sitshengisani Vuma added: “The issue of ablution facilities affects hostels with bunk beds where in the past three toilets serviced about 30 students but the same three toilets are now servicing 60 students.”

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