Figure 1: Main administration block
THE REGIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH CENTRE FOR THE SANDVELD SOILS IN THE MEDIUM RAINFAL AREAS OF THE MIDLANDS AND MASVINGO PROVINCES
Background and Location
Makoholi Research Institute (CRI) is a government research institution that is located some 32 km north of Masvingo town. The Institute falls under the Livestock and Pasture Research Division of the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR& SS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development. It is in Natural Region IV, and covers 4300 hectares of land. Altitude is 1204m above sea level on latitude 19O50’ S and longitude 30 0 46’E. Soils are sandy, and especially deficient in nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur. Annual rainfall ranges from 133 mm to over 1000 mm. Unreliable rainfall, both between and within season, coupled with the poor sandy soils, makes the area marginal for crop production. Mean maximum temperature during summer is about 280C,and the minimum temperature during winter is about 60. These characteristics are typical of what is found in most communal areas of the province, such that research programmes and production at the Institute are bound by these constraints.
Apart from a few small kopjes, the area is rather featureless, gently undulating granite sand with its accompaniment of granite outcrops and temitaria. The amount of true vlei is limited to 8%, and treeless semi vlei and riverine areas each account for about one seventh of the total hacterage. The parent granite is the dwala type, and as a result, soil water moves in a lateral manner, thus predisposing the soils to wetness in times of heavy rainfall.
On the shallow ridges, there are some 1000 acres of moderately deep arable sands, two thirds of which have been cleared to provide agronomic research sites and to give crop support to the animal research programme.
The institute has research subsections namely pastures, beef, dairy, smallstock and draught power, poultry and fisheries, farm center and administration. The institute also has a staff complement of 85 people.
Excellence in livestock and pastures research, development and services for a prosperous Zimbabwe
To promote and sustain viable livestock production in the semi-arid sandveld areas of Zimbabwe through the development and dissemination of appropriate technologies, and sustainable utilisation of resources.
To develop and disseminate viable, practical, and sustainable livestock and pasture production technologies that meets the needs of the livestock industry in Zimbabwe.
Teamwork, Professionalism, Creativity, honesty, Accountability, loyalty, Transparency
The core functions of Makoholi Research Institute are to develop technologies for sustainable intensive livestock production systems within the low rainfall region/ agro-ecological regions iv and v (Masvingo and Midlands provinces) using veld, improved pastures, homegrown crops and their residues. The overall objective being to assist in boosting Agriculture Production and poverty alleviation through:-
- Maintenance of a reliable source of conserved indigenous animal and plant genetic materials for future use
- Provision of information on the use of Mashona cattle for beef production, dairy and beef production through Mashona cross breeding.
- Provision of information on improved poultry husbandry (indigenous poultry mainly) and goat production
- Provision of information on pasture and forage production
- Availing farmers with pure Mashona cattle for use in beef production systems
- Availing farmer with Mashona dairy crossbreeds for use mainly in the smallholder dairy sector so as to boost/improve dairy within the sector
- To provide pasture and forage seed e.g. Leucena seed and vegetative propagation material such as Bana grass which has been successfully evaluated for the region, at subsidized cost so as to improve on the farmers’ feed resource base