Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the Hopeville Housing Project and commissioned a $2 million tomato processing plant in Bulawayo on Thursday afternoon.
The projects are situated in the outskirts of the city centre before the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and are expected to help turn around the country’s economy as well as promote job opportunities.
Officially commissioning the two projects, the President said they were key in the development of Bulawayo.
“These two projects are critical building blocks towards the revival of Bulawayo and the attainment of the desire to create decent jobs and an improved quality of life of our citizens,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said his government welcomed such initiatives that were vital to the revival of Bulawayo industries. He also said there was need to develop vibrant agro processing industry to aid in the uptake of the country’s primary produce.
“The tomato processing plant is a welcome initiative as it resonates with our call for the value addition and beneficiation of the countries agricultural produce. To date we have received more investors that are interested in further developing and constructing more agro based industries to process vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products,” he said.
He commended the employment of women, men and young people who run the plant and work there. The tomato plant has created income for over 4000 people in the rural areas that produce tomatoes.
“There is no more setting by the road side selling tomatoes, you just produce them and bring them to the plant and you are paid. I urge all farmers throughout the country to focus on increasing productivity in every sphere of our agricultural sector,” he said.
He said in line with the countries mechanization drive, measures have been put in place to speed up delivery of agricultural equipment such as tractors for tillage.
Beneficiaries of such programs must fully utilise equipment and enhance their activities as government will run them under self financing models.
“There is need for adoption and adaption of appropriate technologies in the agro processing industries especially in view of the growth of micro and small sale farmers across the country. It is very possible to make Matabeleland green,” he said.
Workers in government departments were encouraged to upgrade their skills so as to fit in the new technologies coming up. He also said farmers must now produce for export to increase their profits.
Turning to the Hopeville Housing project which is at a cost of $2billion he said it has immense benefits downstream industries and said the is need for a municipality due to the magnitude of the project which is going to be bigger than Gwanda town.
It is an up-market satellite town spearheaded by Thompson Properties and when complete, the area will have over 20 000 up-market housing units, a shopping mall and state of the art recreational facility.
He said in the spirit of devolution, provinces must make an effort to do projects that will change their fortunes like the ones witnessed in Bulawayo.
“Provincial councils must plan the growth of their economies well and mordenising their surroundings. I recommended other provinces to come and see what the people of Bulawayo are doing in terms of developing the economy,” he said.