By ZBC Reporter
FARMERS in Chipinge are lobbying for the district to be granted an Agro-Economic Zone status after positive reviews by the country’s trade promotion body- ZimTrade.
Chipinge is viewed as a sleeping giant, with its economy backed by a thriving horticulture industry.
Last year, ZimTrade revealed efforts to ensure the district is granted special agro-economic zone status, a development which has been welcomed by farmers because of its potential to unlock economic development.
Speaking to ZBC News a farmer from the district Mr Oscar Taguta said granting of the status is crucial to value addition efforts of produce from the area.
We see this development unlocking investment in agriculture, particularly on mechanisation. Value addition of our products is one thing that we are sure can be realised from this development. Obvious banks will extend loans to us hence boosting agricultural activities, he said.
Macadamia Nuts Association of Zimbabwe, Technical Advisor Lazarus Dhliwayo also said the special agro-economic zone status could be the best way to deal with exploitative middle-men who are taking advantage of bottlenecks in the marketing process.
Chipinge District has vast agricultural activities but those are not being exploited to their full capacity. We need investments that can value-add, attract investments, improve infrastructure development and facilitate better marketing opportunities for us, noted Dhliwayo.
Macadamia Nuts Association of Zimbabwe Patron Dr Win Mlambo spoke on government’s devolution agenda which he said will be supported by the initiative as communities will make do with what they have for sustenance.
Macadamia nuts industry is one that can be a back born product for the district. It’s striving even under very difficult conditions and it needs to be supported. This will also buttress the idea of devolution where communities are expected to benefit from resources around them. Chipinge has everything so that status automatically attracts government support in all way possible hence benefitting the entire district economically, he said
Meanwhile, the economic zone status is expected to advance the value of the macadamia nuts industry, which is currently estimated to be worth between 15 and 25 million United States dollars.