Source: Agric research body returns | The Herald February 28, 2019
Felex Share Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive continues to bear fruit with leading global agricultural research organisation, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) announcing yesterday that they were relocating to Zimbabwe this year to invest millions of dollars towards the modernisation of Matopos Research Centre.
The organisation, which assists farmers in enhancing small grain production, intends to make Zimbabwe a research hub for sub-Saharan countries using part of the $30 million it earmarked for the region.
President Mnangagwa yesterday met ICRISAT director-general Dr Peter Carberry at Munhumutapa Offices.
Dr Carberry told President Mnangagwa that the organisation was coming back having moved to Malawi and Ethiopia to establish regional centres at the height of the economic meltdown in the country.
He said focus would be on making Matopos Research Centre a world-class research institution.
“I have come with my country director (Dr Kizito Mazvimavi) to inform the President that we wish to invest and modernise our facility here in Zimbabwe,” Dr Carberry.
“We want to bring in new resources, new capability to make the Matopos Research Station a world leading facility to breed and improve varieties and hybrids of millet, sorghum groundnuts, chick pea among others.
“That facility will be used to support the farmers of not just Zimbabwe, but the whole region as we support provision of improved varieties to small farmers and commercial farmers Zimbabwe and from many countries in east and southern Africa.”
He said their investment would take effect immediately.
“We are going to start investing from now,” he said.
“The governing body has agreed to support this programme. We have resources supported by a number of donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We have a grant from the Gates foundation of $30 million over four years and that grant is supporting crop improvement for these important nutritious crops.
“A significant part of that will be supporting upgrade of the Matopos facility. The investment is starting from now, we will be advertising new positions, building infrastructure and supporting the development in 2019.”
Dr Mazvimavi weighed in: “We have an existing infrastructure which was set up with mostly support from USAID and other donors. That facility was made specifically for crop improvement breeding work and we have not been active for quite some time now, but this is now an opportunity for us.”
He said President Mnangagwa assured them that their investment would be safe.
“We have the support of the Government and we got the support of the President this morning. We will bring in staff and experts in the field of crop improvement breeding and other associated research for developing the agriculture sector in the country.
“We will be working closely with the department of research in the country.”
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