The First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa says she is impressed with the response of farming communities to government’s efforts towards growing the economy through agro-processing and value addition as shown by the different products that she saw when she toured some stands at the Harare Agricultural Show this morning.
She was also impressed with how industry is embracing import substitution through the use of locally available raw materials and how some sectors have managed to improve capacity utilisation and exports.
Accompanied by the Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the ruling Zanu PF party and former deputy speaker of parliament Cde Mabel Chinomona, the First Lady’s first port of call was the agricultural produce hall were produce from communal and small holder farmers was on display.
Of particular interest to her were the various fruits that included avocado pears which she said are of very high quality and could find a ready export market to generate foreign currency for the country.
There were also indigenous fruits like matohwe and handicrafts from Bulilima and Gwanda.
In the same hall were indigenous grains and varieties of maize as well as sesame seed which communal farmers find hard to market despite toiling to produce it.
In the hall of commerce Amai Mnangagwa visited the Prochem stand which produces cosmetics and detergents.
A company representative at the stand explained to her how they are using local raw materials to manufacture dishwashing detergents and body creams.
Her next stop was to be at another food company which is making salad dressing mayonnaise and other goods using local ingredients thus cutting expenditure on food imports.
The First Lady was also apprised on the rebound story in cotton production at the Cottco stand where the company’s Managing Director, Mr Pious Manamike paid tribute to the Command Agriculture thrust and Presidential Input Scheme programmes as the game changers.
Following a deep decline in cotton production countrywide in the last two decades, the crop is now on an upward trend following its inclusion under the current Command Agriculture thrust and Presidential Input Scheme programmes.
Mr Manamike who was manning the Cottco stand at the show said cotton production has increased from 28 000 tonnes to 80 million tonnes in the last three years as government came to the rescue of the sector giving hope to farmers who relied on the crop in areas like Gokwe and Mashonaland Central.
At the Women’s University in Africa stand Director Strategic Business Development/Marketing and Public Relations Mrs Semukeliso Gono explained to the First Lady how the university has introduced the Midwifery Degree to improve the standards of midwifery in the country against a rising mortality rate due to child delivery complications.
Upon visiting the Grain Marketing Board stand, Amai Mnangagwa was informed of improved payment plans for deliveries and on how the parastatal has also diversified into stock feed manufacturing and production of grain packaging ware.
GMB General Manager Mr Rockie Mutenha explained that the stand of things where farmers payments on delivery of grains have been expedited and the state of the grain silos where the biggest silo location Lion’s Den experienced an explosion.
He said a forensics investigation is taking place to establish the cause of the accident.
The Office of the President and Cabinet is also running a stand where the message of youth taking up agriculture is being emphasized and demonstrated through a play.
The First Lady also took time to watch and participate in children’s activities in the children’s corner on the OPC stand.
At the Zanu PF party stand she got acquainted with the activities of every department in the party and what they are doing, including mobilisation of membership into the party.
She also visited the Tongaat Hullet stand that is into sugarcane and ethanol production.
Here they said sugar production is at 73 percent capacity utilisation while ethanol is at 70 percent.
Sugar production has grown in leaps and bounds with indigenous farmers now also involved in the former preserve area for a few.