George Maponga–Masvingo Bureau
President Mnangagwa is expected to commission an Amarula Fruit Processing and Value Addition Plant at Rutenga Growth Point in Mwenezi today.
The project is set to economically transform the largely rural district.
The commissioning of the plant dovetails with the Second Republic’s rural industrialisation strategy which is crucial towards the attain of Vision 2030 targets of making the country an upper middle income economy.
Built by the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe (NBAZ), an autonomous research body under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, the plant is expected to change the face of Rutenga and the entire Mwenezi district.
The plant is also one of the flagship Government projects in Masvingo that seek to stimulate socio-economic development under the National Development Strategy (NDS1).
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira, yesterday confirmed the President’s visit to Mwenezi.
He said he was upbeat about the province’s growth prospects using locally available resources.
“Yes, the President will tomorrow (today) commission the Amarula Fruit Processing and Value Addition Plant at Rutenga and this investment will create jobs for our people while stimulating economic growth in rural Mwenezi,” said Minister Chadzamira.
“The plant will produce many things such as edible oils, stock feed and juices. This is a welcome development for Mwenezi because the district has the mapfura fruit in abundance.”
Minister Chadzamira said ordinary villagers will generate income from picking and supplying mapfura to the processing plant.
“Besides supplying the local market, some of the products will be exported to earn our country foreign currency, and this fits into the frame of our thrust to grow our provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to US$8 billion by the year 2030,” said Minister Chadzamira.
Preliminary indications show the plant will employ 100 people directly, while over 30 000 households will indirectly get employment by supplying mapfura, the raw material, to the plant.
The investment highlights the successful drive by President Mnangagwa’s administration to use local resources to support national economic development.
Mwenezi Rural District Council chief executive Mr Albert Chivanga last week said the project was the first manufacturing industry at Rutenga Growth Point, which is eyeing town status.
Mwenezi is dominated by the mapfura fruit, which is normally harvested during the peak season from end of January to end of April annually. Estimates show over 30 000 households in the rural Mwenezi heartland will accrue direct benefit from the plant.
Plans are afoot to establish a plantation of amarula fruit trees near Rutenga and water from Manyuchi Dam will be used to irrigate the plantation. The plantation will cover 10 000 hectares and will also supply the processing and value addition plant at Rutenga.