Story by Tichaona Kurewa
FOOD process companies are ready to tap into the spin-off effects of the Gwayi-Shangani Lake through contract farming in Matabeleland North Province.
The Gwayi-Shangani Lake project is expected to create fertile ground for investment in agriculture with 10 000 hectares of irrigable land having been identified along the pipeline.
Proposed investments in the project are in line with the new government policy position where off-takers of agricultural commodities are required and mandated to fund the production of at least 40 percent of what they require annually.
“As National Foods, we have a manufacturing plant in Bulawayo and as a company, we roughly do one-third of our volumes in Bulawayo. We do quite a significant volume in Matabeleland from the Matabeleland Community; certainly, if the Gwayi-Shangani lake is commissioned, we see that as a significant potential supply of raw materials to us. We always want to buy local,” said National Foods chief executive officer, Mike Lashbrook.
The Government confirmed the food processing firms’ contribution to the country’s agricultural sector.
“This summer, the scheme has supported 4 300 hectares of maize, 7 500 hectares of soya beans, and 770 hectares of sorghum, with an investment of over US$12 million. Under the contract farming arrangement, farmers are provided with seed, fertiliser and chemicals by A-Growth and PHI whilst National Foods acts as an off-taker for the product,” said the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Honourable Vangelis Haritatos.
The development trajectory of the sector is outlined in the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, which seeks to achieve a US$8.2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.
The US$275 million Gwayi-Shangani Lake project is progressing well and is set for completion this year.