THE African Development Bank has set aside $100 000 to support a mopani worm (macimbi)-processing centre wholly-owned by women in Beitbridge.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is providing the technical support for the project in which the two organisations are partnering government.
The project, which is expected to spin thousands of dollars when fully operational, is in line with ILO’s Decent Work Agenda promoting creation of opportunities for productive work.
“All this is in line with the Decent Work Agenda of the ILO which promotes creation of opportunities for productive work that delivers a fair income, security for workers, social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration,” the ILO country director, Hopolang Phororo said yesterday.
She was addressing close to 300 Beitbridge residents and government officials gathered at the ground-breaking ceremony at the site of the plant 45km along the Harare-Beitbridge Highway.
Matshiloni Mopani Women Processing Centre, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, is owned by 28 women of the Rovhona Raita Women’s Group which has brought immense social and financial security to their families.
Phororo said her organisation, which is funding similar projects in the country, will offer technical support to the government in implementing and establishing a sustainable project.
Funds will be used to build a hygienic processing plant for macimbi, adding their value for export.
Already $32 000 has been spent on a solar-powered borehole, dryer for the worms, overheard reservoir tanks, a foundation for a packing factory and more buildings for a fully-fledged factory are underway on the 3 000m² plot close the main road and railway.
“The next stage is a macimbi value-addition building where we expect packaging to be done,” Phororo said.
Addressing the same gathering Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni said her ministry shared the belief to deliver transformational solutions for women, men and youth.
“My ministry is extremely proud to pioneer a new project for women in Matabeleland South. Establishing value-addition processing plants is part of our goals to grow women in Zimbabwe,” she said. She said the new plant would enhance food security in Beitbridge and the country at large.
“I am proud of this project and Beitbridge was identified as the ideal location. This clearly cements our commitment to supporting a robust food industry in the country,” she said.
Nyoni pledged to accelerate the completion of the plant, setting a target for her ministry and partners at two-and-half months.
Rovhona Raita – Venda for we saw and did – Women’s Group chairperson Emley Maranda said their project began in 2009 and they had tried almost everything including cattle fattening.
“We started with 42 members, but some have since passed on. We shared profits and almost every member was able to get a heifer and some now have seven to eight cattle from this,” she said, failing to hide her joy.
She brought the crowd to stitches when she said some men who had left their homes returned to their wives as financial stability was established back home.
“For us the sky is the limit,” she said.
Beitbridge district administrator Kilibone Ndou stressed the need to conserve trees and other natural resources.
“You must jealously guard the trees,” she said after outlining the nutritional benefits of macimbi.