By Sifiso Sibanda
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has challenged Lupane State University to position itself as the technology nerve centre for Matabeleland North province and provide economic solutions using locally available resources.
This comes as the effects of climate change continue to be felt across the country and the Lupane State University was given a new mandate of transforming people’s lives through sustainable exploration of available natural resources.
The President made the call when he officially opened the university’s Dry Land Agro- Innovation Hub and Industrial Park.
He first took a tour of the facility that has free range poultry, goats, pigs and fisheries, which is billed to be the economic foundation for Matabeleland North province.
President Mnangagwa said the industrial park must capacitate small holder farmers with skills to navigate the new normal brought about by climate change.
“This park will provide products for Matabeleland North province as a whole and ensure access to good nutrition all year round and also tape into indigenous systems and blend it with Science and innovation such that it becomes key to agro business as they change the mindset of all small holder farmers and shift from subsistence farming to business entities,” said the President.
President Mnangagwa also called on the institution to establish a seed gin bank for traditional grains as they improve production through research.
He said government has taken the lead by investing in irrigation agriculture to ensure the nation is food secure.
“Irrigation projects that are mushrooming in the country are a result of our realisation that climate change is upon us and we need to produce our own food by even tapping into indigenous knowledge of preserving crops to mitigate against post-harvest losses, but only that we have to improve our local goats and pigs and transform Mat North to a rural business hub.”
The President further implored the university to research on human wildlife conflict which has seen government setting up a compensation fund to cushion victims.
“I call upon this institution to conduct a research on human wildlife conflict and see how we can improve on the relief fund that we set up to deal with this challenge. This is because you are better placed to do that as this province has the big five and we want results. We don’t want academic passes only we need solutions to our challenges and this must be inspired by our mantra ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo,” he said.
The President assured the nation that government will continue to allocate resources for development, with focus on key national projects such as the Zambezi Water Project and road construction, among others.