Tendai Rupapa recently in CHIREDZI
THE private sector should partner Government in rolling out projects that foster food security and improve the livelihoods of citizens, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.
She was speaking after touring winter maize projects that are being supported by sugar producer Tongaat Hulett as part of measures to achieve and ensure food security in Masvingo Province, which has set a target of 4 500 hectares of winter maize this season.
The First Lady is the country’s health ambassador.
A farmer in her own right, Amai Mnangagwa has made significant contributions to the agricultural sector where she also promotes the production of traditional grains like sorghum, millet and rapoko, among others, which are famed for their high nutritional value.
Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, she runs a nationwide feeding scheme for children, hence her support for agriculture.
“We are happy with the programme we have witnessed here which is designed to end food challenges,” said the First Lady.
“We hope we will get more companies coming on board to boost the food security of country.
“By just looking at this crop, you can see that Masvingo Province can help end the country’s food deficit.
“If this maize is harvested and taken to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), people will not starve, therefore, I urge people to stop stealing.
“Tongaat has joined the Government by applying its expertise in farming and I wish we had so many other like-minded companies and we would not have food challenges like in the previous season.”
The First Lady’s last week visit comes at a time when weather experts have predicted normal to above normal rainfall this season following last season’s drought which left many families countrywide with barely enough food to sustain them.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ezra Chadzamira said the province had the capacity to improve the maize hectarage if sufficiently supported.
“In terms of food security, as Masvingo we are targeting 4 500 hectares this season,” he said.
“We planted alongside Tongaat and Masvingo Development Trust and we have so far done 1 500 hectares. Next season we are targeting 20 000 hectares considering the number of water bodies we have.”
Maize produced under the initiative is aimed at enhancing food security in Masvingo, which faces perennial food deficits due to droughts typical of the agro-ecological region the province is situated in.
Now, there are possibilities of expanding the programme to cover other crops, thanks to the huge success of the winter maize programme, which will obviously feed into Government’s Vision 2030 in which the country is expected to transform into an upper middle income economy in which food deficits are expected to be a thing of the past.
Amai Mnangagwa passed through the winter maize project last week while on her way to Chambuta Rehabilitation Centre where she spent three days staying with children who reside there.
The children were rounded off the streets and committed to Chambuta Rehabilitation Centre where they are attending school and being equipped with vocational skills, courtesy of the First Lady.
The rehabilitation centre offers the children a new lease of life, which is far different from life on the streets where they were exposed to drugs and other vices.
The centre is also undergoing major infrastructural development with a ground-breaking ceremony held on Thursday for a multi-recreational court and an arts and cultural gazebo.
The First Lady is spearheading the development at the institution and the community in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, local authorities and other organisations.