|Cooperative gardens in Gutu South are uplifting hundreds of villagers|
…as MP Togarepi introduces awards for best performers
Some 46 cooperative gardens initiated by Gutu South Member of Parliament (MP) Pupurai Togarepi in the nine wards of his constituency are helping to reduce extreme poverty among hundreds of rural households, with a new award system now introduced to encourage greater productivity.
This reporter had an opportunity to tour some of the projects in Maungwa and Mukaro where cooperative members are producing many type of vegetables including cucumbers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, water melons and spinach.
Members of the cooperatives told TellZim News that there was no better way they could have expected their MP to uplift them than give them the means to fend for themselves.
“This is one of the most underdeveloped part of Gutu district and since 1980, no leader had given us any assistance to empower ourselves. We appreciate what our MP has done for us because we now have more productive ways to spend our time even in the dry season,” said Irene Makara, who is chairperson of the Manjengwa Cooperative Garden in Ward 24.
Situated in Dzinopana Village a few killometres East of Maungwa Business Centre, the community garden has 20 members most of them being women.
Towards the end of 2019, Togarepi gave the members some barbed wire to fence a piece of land close to Munhivi stream, and he also gave them seeds to start their project.
A year later, members are now selling vegetables in bulk, and they are looking for new markets far and wide.
Engineers have been sought to design a weir downstream where a pump will be installed to hoist water to a tank being built close to the garden so as to eliminate the laborious use of buckets for watering.
A similar set up exists at Haziyo Cooperative Garden in Haziyo Village under Chief Mukaro where over 20 villagers are supplementing their livelihoods in the garden.
At this place, an award ceremony was recently held to honour those who managed their gardens well and produced better yields. Being the overall winner, Haziyo won 25kg maize seed, 200kg fertilizer, some vegetable seeds and pesticides.
Other gardens also received their own share of the inputs depending on their level of performance, while individual winners walked away with shovels, cooking pots, teapots and other utensils.
The maize seed and fertilizer will help cooperative members to diversify into maize production under the government’s pfumvudza conservation farming method.
|Togarepi is also sourcing sunscreen lotion for people with albinism in his constituency|
The initiative has also branched into pig and poultry production which has seen Togarepi donating dozens of piglets and chicks from his own farm to many ward-based start-up farming projects.
So far, dozens of piglets and mature pigs that have almost reached the age of reproduction, as well as thousands of broiler and layer chickens have been donated to women and youth-led projects in the wards.
Togarepi told TellZim News that his target was to help make Gutu South a source of horticultural produce for the whole of Masvingo province.
“It is possible for us to become a source of all the vegetables for the whole province. I am pleased by the zeal to work that I see among the people of Gutu South. Many people now have something to trade so that they can earn money to pay their children’s school fees and improve their standards of living. It is our duty as citizens of this country to do our part in developing our own country,” said Togarepi.
He said his work was guided by the desire to contribute to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 which aims to make Zimbabwe an upper-middle class income economy by year 2030.
He thanked government for increasing investment in agricultural extensions workers who are helping to monitor and guide the projects.
Ward 24 Councillor Takawira Rashai said the setting-up of gardens in his ward had given residents reason to hope.
“We had always lagged behind in terms of developmental projects but we are now seeing some changes thanks to Honourable Togarepi who is often on the ground assessing the needs of communities all the time. Our gardens are proof that our people do not need handouts, they just need capacitation so that they can work for themselves,” said Rashai.
Under another programme to assist people with disabilities, Togarepi is distributing sunscreen lotion to people living with albinism in his constituency.