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Paprika processing plant for Mwenezi

Paprika processing plant for Mwenezi

Story by Gay Matambo

THE establishment of the paprika processing plant in Mwenezi District is at an advanced stage, with construction works expected to be complete in November this year.

As part of initiatives to value-add paprika after more than one thousand households in Mwenezi, Chiredzi, and Masvingo districts ventured into production of the cash crop recently, government and an Italian-based non-governmental organisation, Sustainable Agriculture Technology, are in the process of setting up a paprika processing plant which is expected to accelerate development in Rutenga.

Construction of the plant comes after the government established the Marula/Mapfura Processing and Value Addition Factory in Rutenga which has emerged as a transformative tool in the community.

The plant is expected to be completed in November.

“This project is targeting smallholder farmers around Mwenezi Chiredzi and Masvingo. Basically, the main crop that we are working with at the moment is paprika and we are soon going to be value-adding the paprika that is coming from farmers across the three districts. We are going to be buying the paprika, providing the off-take market and value-adding so that farmers can maximise the profits they get, because of the throughput that we need at the processing centre.

“We will also be purchasing paprika even from beyond the three action districts. In terms of the progress at the processing centre, we are at about 90%. What is left is the installation of the milling machine which has been delivered and we are expecting the installers to come for installation within the next week or two. Thereafter we will start milling,” said the project manager for Sustainable Agriculture Technology- Seeds For The Future, Mr Engelbert Dzimbanhete.

Farmers at Lapache Irrigation Scheme in Mwenezi confirmed how their lives have been transformed by the value-addition initiative.

“With this paprika project, our lives have changed. We are now able to do many things that we were not able to do like purchasing properties and sending our children to tertiary colleges,” said one of the paprika farmers.

Another added, “Paprika production is not only benefitting the farmers but the whole community because there’s a time when we employ people to come and assist us in picking the paprika and we pay them hence, this leads to poverty eradication.”

“I ventured into paprika production, and I have realised that it is a good crop that has returns especially now that the processing plant will be close by. We noted that after value adding the paprika, we will be earning more and I encourage farmers who have access to water to venture into paprika production,” another farmer said.

Mwenezi Rural District Council Chief Executive Officer Mr Albert Chivanga noted that commodities grown and processed locally will benefit rural businesses and rural communities through employment creation, improved livelihoods, and new markets for agricultural commodities.

He said, “This plant is going to benefit the locals and the district in that all the Paprika that is going to be produced in the district will be processed locally here and even the other grains such as sesame and mhunga or rapoko will also be processed at this centre and value addition will be done at the same time and point so besides value addition, there is going to be employment creation, nutritional addition to locals and the province. Definitely, the economic complexion of the district and Rutenga itself will be transformed. Rutenga will soon become an industrial site.”

Once completed, the paprika processing plant will be one of the several life-changing initiatives by the Second Republic that seek to harness Zimbabwe’s biodiversity through value addition and beneficiation which include the amacimbi/madora processing plant in Beitbridge and the fruit and vegetable processing plant in Mutoko.

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