By Ndafadza Madanha
THE country’s largest platinum producer ZIMPLATS allocates a third of its annual budget to promoting agricultural activities across the country.
Mining companies have often been accused of shortchanging communities by simply extracting minerals and polluting the environment without bringing any tangible and sustainable projects outside their core business.
Equally mining and agriculture interests have competed for key inputs such as land and water at times with devastating consequences but the two rely on each other to prosper.
Experts contend that to maximise the positive and mitigate negative consequences, agriculture and mining must work together to create sustainable pro-poor development through clear policy frameworks and coherent industry strategies.
According to Zimplats company corporate services manager Busi Chindove, its corporate social responsibility programmes are mainly targeted at ensuring skills transfer, increasing household food security and incomes.
Among the projects Zimplats has undertaken in recent years include an extensive conservation farming programme, provision of prime breeds in the Mhondoro-Ngezi area to improve herd genetics and quality.
“Our first project was on conservation farming and we had about 100 participants but 20 left because you know conservation farming is challenging. However we continued with the remaining 80.
Our main goal was to ensure knowledge transfer as conservation farming is about farmers without draught power and we spent about US$1 million on the project over three years. Usually a third of our budget is channeled to agriculture projects”.
She said after exiting the project after three years of extensive programs farmers were able to continue eking a living from the skills they had received.
Chindove said currently Zimplats along- side other mining companies has partnered with Zimbabwe Agriculture Society (ZAS) to artificially inseminate 10 000 cattle in communal areas as part of efforts to revitalize livestock in the country.
Under the programme Zimpalts has adopted three provinces namely Mash West, Matabelaland North and South.
Before this project Chindove said the company donated Bonsmara and Tuli bulls to improve herd genetics in the Mhondori-Ngezi area which has resulted in quality cattle breeds. In light of the outbreak of livestock diseases Zimplats has also assisted in acquiring dipping chemicals and other vaccines.
The company has also supported Agritex officers in the district through provision of motorbikes for them to carry out their functions.
Chindove said the company was working on a massive irrigation project that will draw water from Chitsuwa dam and dozens of families are expected to benefit.
“We are currently undertaking feasibility studies on an irrigation scheme we want to set up. We have engaged Chibero College and Chinhoyi University of Technology and we shall be drawing water from Chitsuwa dam and we believe this will be a massive project that will also bolster household incomes”.