MASVINGO province has huge agriculture potential that is yet to be exploited according to the Business Economic Empowerment Forum (BEEF) which is hosting a consultative indaba in Chiredzi.
The province boasts of 1044 dams with over 20 holding 1 million cubic meters of water with the major dams reserving their supply to sugar irrigation in the lowveld.
The recently completed and full Tokwe-Mukosi dam has potential to irrigate 25 00 hectares.
Nationally the province contributes 11% of water bodies in the country however, with the anticipated development of the Runde- Tende confluence which is earmarked to be the largest inland Dam in Zimbabwe.
With the dam Masvingo will contribute 29% of inland water holding capacity in Zimbabwe becoming number one.
However, only less than 3000 hectares is currently under irrigation in the province mainly sugarcane plantations in Chiredzi, Triangle, Mwenezana and some cereal crop farming in Dewure ranch in Bikita.
BEEF governor for lands and agriculture Martin Matsa said Masvingo had ability to create value chains around agriculture produce.
“Sugarcane is the major commercial activity in the province though refining of the sugar is done in Harare with the refined sugar returning to the Chiredzi District to be repackaged for distribution back into the country. A processing refining plant back in the district of origin would help create local employment and reduce the end product price”.
He said Masvingo could also revive cattle ranching and the fact that one of the three Commercial Storage Company (CSC) plants was in the province points to its livestock capacity.
“Cattle ranching though there is a high potential for growth which at its peak was feeding Masvingo CSC with 400 beasts slaughtered per day, the industry has gone down. We need to restock our commercial herd and revive CSC and process our hide in the province. We can even produce our own shoes, bags and jackets from our local tanning factories”.
Another area for growth in the province is commercial fruit and cereal production.
“We need to embark on fruit production and canning a lot of guavas and Wild fruits which grow naturally in Zaka, Bikita, and Gutu. Cereal crops are grown mostly as subsistence though Command Agric has enabled some farmers to be able to produce commercially but besides Dewure ranch there is very little commercial cereal crop production around the province. This can be attributed to poor rains and underutilized water bodies for irrigation development, the soils are very good in Chiredzi district, Mwenezi, Bikita, Zaka and parts Gutu”.