The Government is forging ahead with its thrust to industrialise rural areas in line with its Vision 2030 with a $50 million Amarula Fruit Processing and Value Addition plant set to be commissioned at Rutenga Growth point next week.
The Amarula plant is one of the flagship government projects being rolled out in Masvingo province to transform the socio-economic face of the province in line with the National Development Strategy(NDS 1).
The National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) which is an autonomous research body under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development built the plant that will change the face of Rutenga and the entire Mwenezi District.
President Mnangagwa is expected to commission the plant on Monday next week. The plant is expected to employ 100 people directly while over 30 000 households will indirectly get employment by supplying mapfura —the raw material to the plant.
Produce from the plant which includes edible oils, fruit juice, and stock feed will be supplied to both the local foreign markets.
The investment highlights the successful drive by President Mnangagwa’s administration to use local resources to drive national economic development as Zimbabwe angles to become an upper-middle-income society by 2030.
Mwenezi Rural District Council(MRDC) chief executive Mr. Albert Chivanga yesterday confirmed that President Mnangagwa will commission the landmark plant.
The processing and value addition plant will be the first manufacturing industry at Rutenga Growth Point in the rural Mwenezi heartland. Rutenga is already eyeing town status.
“The plant (Amarula processing and value addition) will be commissioned by President Mnangagwa on 25 October and workmen are currently doing touch-ups ahead of its official opening,” said Mr. Chivanga.
“Machinery for the plant is already there and everything is now almost in place. The investment is so far worth$46,5 million and the cost will likely increase slightly as some additional works will be done at the plant.”
Mr. Chivanga disclosed that the plant will be a game-changer in the employment sphere will slightly less than 20 percent of the population set to indirectly benefit from the investment.
Mwenezi is predominated by the mapfura fruit which is normally harvested during the peak season from the end of January to the end of April annually.
Villagers will pick the abundant mapfura fruit for sale to the plant.
“Our calculations show that about 30 967 households will be directly employed via supplying the raw material for the processing and value addition plant at Rutenga. About 100 direct jobs will be created.”
Mr. Chivanga said there was excitement across Rutenga and Mwenezi over the impending opening of the fruit processing plant that will uplift many families from poverty using locally available resources.
Plans are also afoot to establish a plantation of Amarula fruit trees near Rutenga that will be irrigated using water from Manyuchi Dam.
The plantation will straddle over 10 000hectares and will also supply the processing and value addition plant at Rutenga.