If the majority are poor the nation is poor, it does not matter how many billionaires you have


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“If the majority of your people are poor, you are a poor nation. It does not matter how many billionaires you have. If the majority of your people are agricultural, you are an agricultural country. If the majority of your people are rural, you are not an urbanised nation.”

These were the words of Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Sithembiso Nyoni when she responded to Hurungwe West Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa who had asked what her ministry was doing to empower people in the rural areas where the majority of people lived.

“I want to agree with the member that we have not done enough to value add agricultural production from the rural areas. Let me assure the hon. member that we are learning from the agricultural model, if funds permit in the value addition and food security. My Ministry has got programmes to value add fruits from the rural areas so that we make fruit juice, oils, and dry vegetables from where the rural people are, package from where they are and market. All this will depend on funding,” she said

Nyoni said that if she had her way no cotton would be sold to merchants who did not have ginneries where the cotton was produced.

“When it comes to cotton that you mentioned, if I had my way, no raw cotton would be sold to any merchant who does not gin it, where the farmer can reach with their scotch-carts. We need to put ginneries in Kadoma, Sanyati, Chegutu, Nkayi, Chiundura and Gokwe, everywhere, Hon. Speaker Sir, so that this cotton is ginned there, and only the ginned cotton comes to town.

“All the other by-products like the seed remains in the rural areas to make the cooking oil for rural people, to sell and also to make stock-feed for rural people to feed their cattle during droughts. But, all this is scooped into towns and then the rural people have to come and buy cooking oil, buy lard and buy everything and yet they are the primary producers.”

 

Q & A:

 

MR. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker and a very good afternoon to you. Hon. Minister, thank you for your eloquent presentation. I represent a rural constituency, Hurungwe West. The CSO late survey clearly indicates that 70% of our population is in the rural areas. How have you involved them in this? I also talk about the fact that they are the most credible people in terms of having to pay back loans. It is no secret that agriculture is sustained by the rural folk. I would also want to bring this to your attention; the best SMEs business model would be a rural farmer. Having seen their contribution to the economy through food security, how are you going to capacitate them? We seem to be on this trend to create new things and we lose money, yet we do not put money in what we know.

I think it is important that the rural folk, who play such a major role in our economy are also looked at and capacitated. If you look at the food security, maize for example, 85% of the maize comes from the rural folk and 70% of the cotton, is coming from the rural folk. But, the cotton that is leaving those areas, you do not see much coming back in terms of money for them to be better farmers even in terms of capacity building, so that the quality of cotton or agriculture improves. It cannot just be a question of taking out and not bringing anything into them. So from a capacity building point of view, what programmes does your Ministry have for the rural folk?

Again, it is no secret that the urban way of life is sustained by the rural folk. I say so because even today, when people in the urban areas visit rural areas, they tend to come with something, yet when you visit the urban areas nowadays, you do not go back with nothing. That again shows how important it is to consider them in this sphere. My question is, 70% of our people are in the rural areas and 85% of what is contributed in terms food security is coming from the rural folk, how have you considered them in your document? I thank you.

MRS. NYONI: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. This is a very pertinent question in that a nation is defined by the majority of people. If the majority of your people are poor, you are a poor nation. It does not matter how many billionaires you have. If the majority of your people are agricultural, you are an agricultural country. If the majority of your people are rural, you are not an urbanised nation. So this is a very important question. How is the Ministry involving the SMES? This study shows that we have supported SMES who are in agriculture, horticulture and others. 60% of the SMES that we deal with are in agriculture, which means they are in rural areas.

I want to agree with the member that we have not done enough to value add agricultural production from the rural areas. Let me assure the hon. member that we are learning from the agricultural model. If funds permit in the value addition and food security, my Ministry has got programmes to value add fruits from the rural areas so that we make fruit juice, oils, and dry vegetables from where the rural people are, package from where they are and market. All this will depend on funding. Like I said hon. members, if this million dollar facility is to be made available, we would do wonders because rural people already have an economic model for all of us to emulate. They work hard and they are focused. When you give them money, they pay back because their social fabric, for integrity and ethics is still intact in some communities.

So, we need to learn a lot from them. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- When it comes to cotton that you mentioned, if I had my way, no raw cotton would be sold to any merchant who does not gin it, where the farmer can reach with their scotch-carts. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- We need to put ginneries in Kadoma, Sanyati, Chegutu, Nkayi, Chiundura and Gokwe, everywhere, Hon. Speaker Sir so that this cotton is ginned there, and only the ginned cotton comes to town. All the other by-products like the seed remains in the rural areas to make the cooking oil for rural people, to sell and also to make stock-feed for rural people to feed their cattle during droughts. But, all this is scooped into towns and then the rural people have to come and buy cooking oil, buy lard and buy everything and yet they are the primary producers.

If this House could support me, that would be something that this Ministry would do to make sure that value addition of the crops grown by small scale SMES, is value added there and then people in town have to drive to us to come and buy what the rural people are growing. Hon. member, I thank you for your question it was very pertinent. Thank you.

(8 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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