ZIMBABWE – Key research institutions in Zimbabwe have successfully produced and distributed 3,310,000 virus-eliminated sweet potato vines across all provinces under the Presidential Horticulture Recovery Plan (PHRP).

This initiative, includes the Kutsaga Board, Low Yield Research Institute, Coffee Research Institute, and Horticulture Research Institute, launched in 2021, aims to bolster sweet potato production in the country.

The PHRP, a brainchild of the government, is crucial in the face of the weakening economic conditions and aims to distribute virus-free sweet potato vines to farmers for multiplication in irrigation schemes.

 The primary goal is to escalate national sweet potato production to an impressive 1 million tons annually.

Mr. Leanard Munamati, Acting Director for Crop Production at the Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services (AARDS), affirmed the positive impact of the program.

He stated, “We have received 150,000 sweet potato seedlings from Kutsaga, distributed on December 6, 2023, to Mashonaland East Province for propagation. For this season alone, 310,000 vines have been distributed, with an additional 160,000 ready for distribution in Mashonaland West Province.”

Under the Presidential Sweet Potato Program, 1.8 million households are set to benefit, each receiving 50 vines, translating to a staggering 90 million sweet potatoes by 2025.

This targeted approach reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring food security and empowering local farmers.

Cassava processing plants in Cameroon

In a separate agricultural development on the African continent, Cameroon recently marked a significant milestone in its push for agricultural industrialization.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe, inaugurated the first cassava processing plant in Ngoulemakong, South region, as part of an ambitious initiative for 2024.

Facilitated by the Agricultural Markets Investment and Development Project (PIDMA) and funded by the World Bank with CFA50 billion, the cassava processing plant signifies a shift from subsistence farming to competitive agriculture with a focus on marketing and industrialization.

The plant, costing over CFA441 million, boasts a production capacity of 550 tons per month, producing starch, tapioca, and breadfruit flour.

Minister Mbairobe emphasized the project’s significance in boosting local economies, stating, “This initiative aligns with the 2020-2030 National Development Strategy, emphasizing import substitution and food security goals.”

The Ngoulemakong Cassava Processing Plant is already gaining recognition for the high quality of its cassava flour, utilized by the World Food Program for humanitarian efforts.

In his speech, Minister Mbairobe hinted at a broader initiative, announcing the upcoming commissioning of seven more cassava processing plants across Cameroon in 2024.

This signifies the country’s commitment to sustainable agricultural development, economic growth, and achieving food security goals outlined in their national strategy.

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