Lovemore Chikova’s Development Dialogue
Rural areas of Zimbabwe were marginalized for a long time, such a practice reaching its peak in colonial times, when successive racist governments paid little attention to the areas where people lived.
However, rural areas have a potential to revive the development of the country because they are endowed with all the ingredients that matter for economic progress.
There are many prospects in rural areas related to the available resources such as minerals, farmland, tourism, water bodies, labor and many others, resources necessary for the development of everything. country.
Things have changed dramatically in Zimbabwe in terms of development trajectory since the arrival of the New Dispensation led by President Mnangagwa.
The Second Republic did well to understand in time that the development efforts will be ineffective if the rural areas are left behind.
This reflection is now a game-changer in the country’s development trajectory.
Prioritizing rural development is intended to transform the face of Zimbabwe, as it means taking initiatives where the majority of the population lives.
This is helpful in achieving Vision 2030 which aims to achieve an upper middle income economy by that year.
The more development is spread across the country, the more beneficiaries there are, and when incomes improve, they do so on a larger scale.
President Mnangagwa has since made it clear that the Second Republic will accelerate rural modernization and industrialization to create jobs, improve livelihoods and transform the lives of once marginalized rural communities. The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) is very clear on the importance of rural development and this turns into concrete action.
Life changing developments are taking place in rural areas.
In the recent past, there has been the opening of industries that depend on local raw materials for added value and enrichment.
But these should serve as examples of what investors can achieve by venturing into projects in rural areas.
Instead of the smallholder farmers of Mutoko and surrounding areas having to bear the cost and labor of transporting their produce to larger markets like Harare, a processing plant for these produce has been established in the district.
President Mnangagwa recently officially commissioned the Tabudirira Fruit and Vegetable Processing Hub, which aims to empower young people and promote the added value of local agricultural products.
This should create jobs as more and more people turn to agriculture, as they can now realize the results of such an endeavor.
In Mwenezi district of Masvingo, President Mnangagwa has commissioned another factory, this time for processing the abundant mapfura / amarula fruits which can be exploited to make various types of wines.
In fact, the people of this region and many people in the south of Masvingo were used to making their own wine from these fruits which they called mukumbi.
They harvest the fruits in season, mainly during the harvest period around March, April and May.
They then store the fruits to allow them to complete the harvest period without any distractions. After harvest time when everyone is now free from any form of work, then the floodgates are opening.
Villagers are starting to brew mukumbi from the mapfura / amarula fruits and this product is mainly for sale to raise money for school fees and to finance the next planting season.
In fact, there are a lot of my friends that I attended in elementary school whose fees were paid for with mukumbi proceeds.
Some of them are now highly esteemed professionals in their chosen careers.
The arrival of the mapfura / amarula plant will allow this fruit to be processed on a larger scale, giving the villagers a chance to earn more money by collecting and selling the fruits at the plant.
Many other industries have been established in different parts of the country to transform locally available resources into finished products ready to be sold in large markets.
Aware of the fact that rural development is anchored on agriculture, many water bodies have been created in different areas with the aim of improving agriculture.
Large dam projects such as the Marovanyati dam in Buhera, the Muchekeranwa dam on the border of the Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces, the Tugwi Mukosi dam in Chivi South and many other such projects have been completed.
In South Matabeleland, one of the country’s largest dam projects – Lake Gwayi-Shangani in the Hwange district – is now nearing completion, nearly 110 years after it was anchored.
The project was dormant, almost neglected, but when President Mnangagwa arrived, work resumed in earnest and the project is now almost complete.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani will have a huge impact on rural development in the Matabeleland region which will leave a major impression on the communities.
The lake is part of the Matabeleland Zambezi National Water Project, which when completed is expected to provide a permanent water solution to Bulawayo and the Matabeleland region.
Areas of rural development expected to benefit from the massive lake include tourism, agriculture, value chain, infrastructure development, health and welfare, and food security. A 10 megawatt power station will be established on the lake.
The integrated master plan for the lake and surrounding area will include a 245 km pipeline that will connect the water body to the town of Bulawayo.
The water pipeline will play an important role in the decentralization process, as the inhabitants along the way will use the water for irrigation purposes.
At the same time, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority was reorganized to work for the development of rural areas, mainly through agriculture.
Recently, President Mnangagwa launched the Rural Development Authority’s Vision 2030 accelerator model aimed at increasing agricultural production in rural areas through the use of irrigation and modern technologies.
The model is expected to stimulate rural development, as ARDA optimally uses at least 26,000 hectares for irrigation projects.
Under this model, jobs will be created for local communities providing labor to the irrigated perimeters that dot the country.
Villagers will be involved as shareholders of the programs and ARDA is expected to pay a profit dividend to approximately 55,000 families and direct beneficiaries, with assistance estimated at one million indirect beneficiaries.
The model will ensure food, feed and fiber safety for rural communities.
Factories will be set up for the enhancement and enrichment of agricultural products from rural areas, while model agricultural enterprises will be created for the training of rural farmers.
The rural development trajectory pursued by the New Dispensation will result in the improvement of the quality of life and the economic well-being of the inhabitants of rural areas.
The end result will ultimately be the eradication of poverty in rural areas, especially when new technologies are harmonized with the indigenous knowledge systems that dominate in many rural areas.
With so many projects underway, everyone in rural areas, including vulnerable groups such as girls, women, youth and people with disabilities, will have the opportunity to participate in development for their own benefit.
The proceeds of such development can be fed back into society and invested in infrastructure such as roads, energy, information and communication technologies, irrigation and housing.
This can easily end the long-standing problem of the rural exodus, as jobs are created in rural areas.
The industrialization and modernization of rural areas is expected to result in the installation of industries in business centers which are otherwise known as growth points.
There is no doubt that the approach taken by the New Dispensation will result in the catapult of rural communities into the 21st development economy.