Story by Tafara Chikumira
THE Insukamini Postharvest Processing Centre is almost complete as contractors are putting in place the final touches to the infrastructure which is expected to service the farming community in Lower Gweru by preserving their fresh produce for marketing purposes.
Farmers in Lower Gweru are set to kiss goodbye to challenges that come with the preservation of fresh produce as the government has established a solar-powered Postharvest Processing Centre in Insukamini through the agro-based industrialisation and modernisation drive.
The centre consists of a shade with an open space for grading crops, an office, a packing room and a cold room.
The infrastructure was installed with an 8kw (eight kilowatts) solar system enough to power the cold rooms and the centre, meaning electricity comes in as backup just to recharge the batteries in the event there is cloud cover.
The centre will service farmers under the Insukamini cluster, which comprises four irrigation schemes which include Insukamini, Mkoba, Mabanjeni and London irrigation schemes.
“It is a dream come true for some of us. We have been having a problem preserving our produce. This means we ended up selling our products for a song to some buyers as we feared that they could go bad. I want to thank our President for such sound leadership,” noted a local farmer.
“Some of us are into horticulture farming. In the absence of this infrastructure, we have been having some serious challenges in maximising production as we feared losing our produce. This pack shade will now help to motivate us to maximise production knowing that we have a safe place to place our produce,” stated another farmer.
The government says the mechanisation of farmers in rural communities is critical for the rural industrial agenda.
“As a government, we are saying after capacitating these farmers, the issue of marketing their produce becomes very critical. In this regard, the state of the produce is of the essence as they scout for buyers. Such infrastructure will help them lure genuine buyers from across the country while their produce remains fresh. This will help them to accrue better returns from their produce,” said Agricultural Marketing Authority CEO Mr Clever Isaya.
The Insukamini Postharvest Processing Centre is being set up to the tune of US$150 thousand.
The centre comes on the heels of the commissioning of the Insukamini irrigation scheme which will see the Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA) taking over the running of operations following major rehabilitation works at the project.