Agro-industrial parks & innovation hubs are vital tools for agric value addition & competitiveness – President

By Justin Mahlahla

Agro-industrial parks and innovation hubs located within the country’s institutions of higher learning are an important tool for agricultural value addition and competitiveness as well as a strategy to support the development of a multiplicity of agriculture-food value chains, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

These strategic national institutions will also accelerate the establishment of rural industry systems, as one of the ways in which the Second Republic is capacitating the youths to develop practical skills of undertaking sustainable farming as a business.

President Mnangagwa said this while commissioning the Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Agro-Industrial Park this Friday.

“This event follows my recent commissioning of the Central Registry in Murehwa, Radnor Mine in Mudzi and most recently, the Mount Meru Millers Oil Processing Factory in Mahusekwa, in this Province.

“Well done to all the stakeholders in Mashonaland Province who continue to play their roles, in their various sectors, towards building this province and our great motherland Zimbabwe. Your individual and collective efforts are a reflection of the success of our development philosophy, “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”,” he said.

He added, “Today’s ceremony is a celebration of yet another milestone, born out of the bold decision by the Second Republic to adopt the Education 5.0 philosophy. This saw my Government introducing and funding the establishment of innovation hubs and agro-industrial parks. This agro-industrial park, here at Marondera University is one of such initiatives.”

Since then, universities and young talented students continue to produce goods and services through the innovation, science and technology development.

These facilities are not the ultimate end goal, but part of a bigger and holistic strategy designed at transforming the agricultural sector for the sustainable socio-economic development of the country, the President said.

“Furthermore, they are envisaged to accelerate our country’s attainment of the National Development Strategy, Vision 2030 and United Nations SDGs. I call upon the youth of our country to occupy the space and play their role in the agriculture sector and guarantee our national food self-sufficiency.”

President Mnangagwa said institutions of higher learning and other stakeholders must give due attention to aspects such as agricultural mechanisation, modern processing technologies; packaging of perishable products and phytosanitary issues, among other interventions.

These should see improved productivity, quality and competitiveness of products for both the local and export markets.

“When I officially commissioned Muchekeranwa Dam last year, I indicated that the Dam would benefit the Surrounding community, including this University. The Marondera University Agro-Industrial Park ought to foster research around seed technologies, better planting techniques and improved methods of soil analysis, among other aspects, and eventually become a centre of excellence in agriculture related issues,” said the President.

He called for more research from Marondera University in the areas of Zimbabwe’s climate change mitigation and resilience building.

“To the Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology students and those across the country, I say, the Agro-Industrial Parks and Innovation Hubs are yours. Use them to showcase your innovative and creative skills. Shun the harmful vices of alcohol and drug abuse that are destroying the lives of some of your peers in our country.

“Use your time wisely and engage in meaningful projects to benefit yourselves, your families, communities and the country at large. Upon graduating from this institution, I expect you to be fully capacitated to run viable and profitable farming enterprises.

It is indeed praise-worthy that some former Marondera University students have been allocated farming space within the University farm. This has seen them establish mushroom and poultry projects which will create employment for them and other young people.”

He assured the gathering that the Government will continue capacitating state universities as well as the talented young people of the country, so that they can fully play their part in the modernisation, industrialisation and overall economic transformation of the country.