Silenjongo Trust, a group of HIV-positive women in Bubi district in Matabeleland North, has embarked on a cattle fattening project aimed to assist orphans and elderly widows in the district.
The trust has already bought six beasts with the assistance of a local non–governmental organisation as well as using its own financial resources accrued from other projects – that include market gardening, poultry, candle making and sewing.
“We have decided to diversify into fattening cattle. We have already bought six beats which we are going to pen-fatten. After three months we are going to sell the beasts and buy more cattle,” said Sicolekile Sibanda, the vice chairperson of the trust, which has one male and 25 female members.
Sibanda said they bought the cattle for $500 each but when fattened each beast is expected to fetch more than $1,000, depending on the weight.
“We have already secured a contract with a Bulawayo abattoir for the supply of the cattle. We do not want to deal with middle buyers who are short-changing rural farmers by buying cattle at low prices and reselling the beasts at astronomical prices to private abattoirs. We have engaged stakeholders such as Agritex and the Ministry of Small to Medium enterprises so that they can assist us in marketing the beasts,” she said.
The group has already constructed cattle feedlots that can accommodate close to 100 beasts.
Silenjongo is currently paying school fees for three orphans at Hawuke primary school. The trust has also built two homesteads for two elderly women.
Silenjongo, which means “hope” was started in April 2005 with the aim of raising funds to assist HIV positive women in the area.