THE revival of horticulture in Cashel Valley region is set to benefit close to 3 000 households in the rural Chimanimani area of Manicaland Province.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
First Lady Grace Mugabe recently handed over farming equipment such as tractors and planters, as well as fuel to farmers in Chimanimani, while giant food processing company, Cairns Foods said it was going to chip in to ensure that the project sails through smoothly.
Cairns Foods said it was also looking forward to expanding its business in terms of caned beans under the once popular brand, Cashel Valley.
Vast tracts of land have been lying idle due to poor infrastructure development in Cashel Valley.
The slow pace of development has condemned thousands of beans and tomato farmers into abject poverty.
“We are very happy that this project is finally taking off. We are grateful with the support we are getting from the First Lady,” Letina Undenge, one of the key figures behind the project said.
“In terms of economic analysis, this project will help improve the GDP of the country.
“This project has the capacity to create employment for the local community.
“The farmers are so excited and they have now started preparing land.
“If you move around the area, it was just a sorry state to see hundreds of hectares of arable land lying idle. At last there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Before the project crumbled, farmers had no transport, seed and other necessary inputs.
“We also tried to find human resources capital from experts who will come to ensure the sleeping giant rises again. Michigan beans and tomatoes will surely be a game changer in Chimanimani,” said Undenge.
Various smallholder farmers who spoke to The Standard recently said they are taking the initiative seriously as it is now their new form of livelihood.
“I am unemployed and I have a big family. My children need school fees and I have to attend to my extended family as well,” said Kundai Muchicho.
“When we were growing-up, horticulture was our source of livelihood but now it is no longer the case.
“We didn’t have capital or a reliable market. We are so excited that at last we are doing to do what we know best,” he said.
However, some villagers were cautious as they feared politics could ruin the project.
“It’s a fact that known Zanu PF people are fronting this project. Those in positions can try to manipulate the community into believing that without them, there cannot be any progress.
“As a community, we wouldn’t want a situation whereby we would be told to put Zanu PF activities first ahead of farming,” said one farmer at Chakohwa.
Some said both women and youths should be seen to be actively involved in the revival of Cashel Valley.
“As a woman, I feel I should have a sense of ownership of the project. I want to fend for my family and take this project to different heights,” said Telda Makuya.
The project is expected to spread to other parts of Manicaland and spill into other provinces as well.