Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Three online programmes to equip extension workers and farmers with skills and expertise were today launched by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary, Dr John Basera.
The platforms; online lead farmer training, Zim Agric in-service training app and Zim-Agrihub will also be useful in the transformation of agriculture.
Dr Basera said President Mnangagwa had capacitated extension workers through availing 5 000 motorcycles and 3 170 had already been distributed.
“The Zim Extension In-service Training App and other digital platforms such as ZimAgriHub will then further empower the extension officers with the requisite technical backstopping skills,” he said.
“To achieve this technical capacitation of extension staff through the use of ICTs, the Ministry has procured about 5 000 tablets and of these 4 425 have been distributed to provinces.”
The Zim-AgriHub is a virtual agricultural centre of excellence that aims to complement agricultural training and research institutions.
“Zim-Agric extension in-service training app is a mobile in-service training application offering short-term refresher courses to various extension staff categories from crops and livestock production, farm management and marketing and policy related issues,” said Dr Basera.
“The Lead Farmer online training programme is a virtual platform meant to produce a farmer graduate who takes farming as a business and produces for a local and export market.”
Dr Basera said the traditional Master Farmer training will continue targeting mainly communal farmers, Old Resettlement farmers and A1 farmers.
“The development thrust focuses on empowering farmers as well as agricultural extension officers. This is in view of the need to keep their skill sets abreast of the dynamic changes in the farming landscape,” he said.
“Our agriculture will now employ a robust innovation service that empowers extensionists, farmers, researchers, students and other stakeholders.”
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,” he said. “We are finalising the set-up of a special printer that can digitalise hard copy archives.
“Many countries in the region are grappling with the strengthening of extension services and we have just unlocked the power of digital 4Agriculture through the training app.”