Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
ZHOVHE Estate, a wholly indigenous company, has invested more than US$10 million into irrigation infrastructure development, livestock production and fisheries since 2016 to complement Government efforts towards food and nutrition security.
The organisation’s chief executive officer, Mr Tisetso Sebata said their farm was now the biggest supplier of flour, mealie meal and fish to communities in Matabeleland region.
To enhance value addition he said the Estate had also invested in milling plants for stock feed, flour, mealie meal and cooking oil. Plans are also underway to set up an abattoir and a tannery.
Mr Sebata said they had planted around 1,5 million fingerlings on their fishery project, which produces at least 20 tonnes of fish monthly.
“This project was started in 2016 and we are still exploring other opportunities that will help grow the local and national economy,” he said.
“So, far we have invested US$10 million at this farm. We have a cross section of activities that we are implementing to boost agriculture production, employment creation, food security and recreation.”
Mr Sebata said their main source of water was Zhovhe Dam, which is one of the biggest dams in the country. In terms of livestock he said the Estate has 1 000 head of cattle, 450 goats, 313 sheep and 2 800 broilers.
“In terms of fisheries we have invested in 1,5 million fingerlings and we have already started breeding mainly the tilapia breams that produce over 20 tonnes for the market monthly,” said Mr Sebata.
“We supply the local retail shops and our major client is the Zimbabwe National Army. We have 60 permanent employees but we outsource when need arises.”
He said the Estate has put 240 hectares under winter wheat, 70 hectares under maize, 30 hectares sugar beans, 105 hectares soya beans, 10 hectares water melons, two hectares tomatoes and one hectare of assorted vegetables. To promote value addition the farm has invested in a milling plant that produces stock feed, mealie meal, and peanut butter among other products.
Mr Sebata said although they were yet to reach their full potential, they had the capacity to mill 20 tonnes of mealie meal and 20 tonnes of flour daily.
He said they were manufacturing their own stock feed for fish and cattle based on demand and were looking to increase their herd from 1 000 to 11 000.
“On livestock we have started constructing an abattoir and eventually a tannery for leather and related products.
“We have also cleared 500 hectares of land to roll out a citrus project. The environment is permitting and we have adequate irrigation water from Zhovhe Dam,” said Mr Sebata.
He said besides combining horticulture projects on the farm, they had also built a lodge, Zhovhe Leisure Park, to cater for tourists to the dam and children on educational trips to the farm and were having guided boat cruises on the dam.
Zhovhe Estate farm manager, Mr Mthulisi Sibanda, said the farm was irrigated by 17 state-of-the art centre pivots and that they were working on investing on a solar garden to minimise the effects of load shedding.
“At the moment our produce is for the local market including surrounding boarding schools, retail supermarkets and other institutions.
“In the near future we are looking at producing for the local and export markets. This will also help to create jobs for the community since we would hire more people.
“On employment we give first preference to those from surrounding communities. It is critical that we empower them,” said Mr Sibanda.