INVESTIGATIONS by TechnoMag indicate that Zimbabwe should be on E60 and not E20 had its program to digitize and value add its agricultural produce of sugarcane, blending ethanol to make petrol continued.In the same root of digitizing agricultural produce, an online programme were farmers and extension staff will benefit from training, specialised information and agricultural solutions, was jointly launched yesterday by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement in conjunction with Zimbabwe Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS).This is in line with the country’s desire to value add and beneficiate all its agricultural produce and activities as revealed to TechnoMag by Agriculture expert Mr Basil Nyabadza.
The immediate former chairperson of AGRICULTURAL Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Board ChairMr Basil Nyabadza in a recent exclusive interview to TechnoMag said ”Cotton built Chegutu and so is Chitungwiza a product of cotton” By saying so he was solidifying and complementing the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, And Rural Resettlement sentiments on the importance of value adding our agriculture.
Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Fisheries Minister Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka in a recent exclusive interview said to TechnoMag Editorial that ”cotton farmers are ultimately exporters and it is something that we are very excited about and government has put in place a mechanism where farmers will be part paid in us dollars 10 dollars per 200 hundred kg woolpack.”He added that ”we do not want to export value.”
Nyabadza reinforced the need to get ”equity from tea” as an example from those with the technology say in the UK so that Zimbabwe does not leg behind in beneficiation and value addition of its agriculture.
ARDA is a state owned enterprise under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, And Rural Resettlement that is responsible for spearheading the advancement of agricultural production and rural development.A business man of note, agriculture expert and chairperson of Traditional Grains Producers Association, As well as Managing Director of Reapers Pvt Ltd Mr Nyabadza also spoke of the immense benefits from beneficiation of sugar cane with ethano saying if the programme had continued we should be on ”E60”
Nyabadza spoke highly of Zimbabwe’s partnership with Billy Rautenbach saying that is digitization of sugar cane they did just as in ”Iowa United States of America and Brazil which has the best processing of sugarcane boasting of of e85 ie 85% when we are still at e20 .Had we continued with program we would be at e60?”
Nyabadza added ”whether it is always yesterday, today and tomorrow the crops are the employers.”
Meanwhile to complement Nyabadza’s call to beneficiate agriculture to an extent of making blended petrol out of sugar cane, ZAKIS head of project Mr Waddilove Sansole said Zimbabwe had a proud history and track record of agriculture research and agriculture training skills spread across the region and the continent.
“ZimAgriHub presents an opportunity as the virtual agricultural centre of excellence to make all this knowledge available in a one stop shop. “We are finalising the set-up of special printer that can digitalise hard copy archives. “Many countries in the region are grappling with strengthening of extension services and we have just unlocked the power of digital4Agriculture through the training app,” he said.
Agriculture is a key component of National Development Strategy One (NDS1) and the Government was leaving no stone unturned in its quest for national food security and ensuring that the vast number of small-scale farming families move from subsistence agriculture to becoming proper commercial farmers growing and selling surpluses of food and cash crops so that they enter the formal economy and become middle-income with the rest of the country.
This comes at a time when Covid-19 and its containment measures were making it difficult for farmers and extension workers to interface.
The platforms are online lead farmer training, Zim Agric in-service training app and ZimAgriHub. Zim-AgriHub is a virtual agricultural centre of excellence that aims to complement agricultural training and research institutions. Agro dealers and other companies can advertise their services and products on the platform, while stakeholders can get policy updates.
The platform targets researchers, extensionists, lecturers, students, other stakeholders in the sector plus all farmers. Zim-Agric extension in-service training app is largely for extension staff to upgrade their skills and keep them up to date. It is a mobile in-service training application offering short-term refresher courses to extension staff in crop and livestock production, farm management and marketing and policy-related issues.
The course’s curriculum includes practicals which will be done and assessed at the nearest agricultural colleges. This particular app offers self-assessment and evaluation questions at the end of each course. After six months there will be an examination and participants will be awarded a certificate. Capacity building on how to use the app has already started and in progress and 623 extension staff have so far registered on the app.
The lead farmer online training programme designed for the higher level of farmers themselves. It is a virtual platform meant to produce a farmer graduate who takes farming as a business and produces for a local and export market.
The programme targets farm managers, supervisors, farm owners and anyone who aspires to be a lead farmer. This farmer will be trained virtually, and practicals will be done at the nearest agricultural college.
The traditional Master Farmer training will continue. This targets mainly communal farmers, farmers in the old resettlement farmers and A1 farmers. Between them these Livestock and Poultry for Sale – Cows and cattle breed for sale three groups combine the bulk of the farming families and the Government sees moving them into the commercial world as critical in creating an upper middle-income country by 2030.
d capacitation of extension workers was key to the attainment realisation of the Ministry’s blue prints and attainment of Vision 2030.
“The development thrust focusses on empowering farmers as well as agricultural extension officers. This is in view of the need to keep their skill sets abreast to the dynamic changes in the farming landscape. Our agriculture will now employ a robust innovation service that empowers extensionists, farmers, researchers, students and other stakeholders,” he said.
Dr Basera said the initiatives were going to boost agricultural production surpassing the achievements of the lst summer season which saw a growth of 34 percent against a target of 11 percent. “As the country moves towards becoming an upper middle-income society by 2030, we need to adopt a completely new approach and exploit the potential of ICTs by developing appropriate and cost-effective applications that can improve the country’s productivity and competitiveness.
“Various ICT applications and solutions can improve industrial processes and quality of products, increase agricultural yields, enhance teaching and learning whilst positively transforming lives including those of farmers,” he said.
This online facility comes in handy confirmed in exclusive interviews on TechnoMag by Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Dr Masuka and by Agriculture expert, Reapers CEO and Traditional Grains Producers Association Chairman who is also former ARDA boss Mr Nyabadza.
Both agricultural fundi’s added their weight on Government going overdrive in increasing productivity, value addition and ensuring all farmers rapidly boost their incomes and standards of living.