The Sunday News
Judith Phiri,Farming Reporter
THE Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project has trained 19 field extension officers and department heads from various departments who will roll out training to the youth, women and Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) around the country.
The move is meant to eradicate poverty and achieve inclusive growth in efficient agriculture. The BEST project is one of six projects that are supported by the 40 million Euros funding from the European Union (EU) under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme. The project is being implemented in five provinces of Zimbabwe: Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Matabeleland North.
Responding to questions from Sunday News, BEST policy advocacy specialist Mrs Fortune Kachidza said those trained have been equipped with knowledge they will impact to stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
“Training of trainers on organisational and financial development of Cattle Business Associations equipped then with knowledge on how to organize beef producers into effective grassroots associations (from ward level to national level). They also gained the knowledge and skills on how to make beef producers associations better financial and business value chain actors,” said Mrs Kachidza.
She added that the Government stakeholders were enlightened with information and knowledge on how to train farmers to be financial literate and competitive market actors with better access to formal long-term credit for investing in lucrative beef enterprises.
Moreover, they were provided with the roadmap on how to establish an effective and functional Zimbabwe National Beef Producers Association with concrete grassroots foundation and representation of SMEs. Mrs Kachidza added that the trainers were taught on the importance of including marginalised groups of society.
“The training also touched on how to include marginalised social groups such as women, youths, physically challenged to profitably participate in the beef value chain. These as the other stakeholders should then be able to advocate for an enabling Beef Value Chain policy and regulatory environment and represent beef producers in beef value chain activities among others,” she said.
She said the training was essential as most of the trainers highlighted some of the challenges they are faced with when they engage different farmers and communities. The Government stakeholders continue to face mobility challenges, thus are not able to fully deliver technical extension services. She added that the BEST project had come up with various measures to mitigate these challenges.
“The project has bought and delivered 24 motor bikes to Agritex and DVS extension officers. In addition to this the project is currently supporting these departments with fuel coupons every month to run these motor bikes.
“Also close collaboration with sister project under Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (The SAFE project “Transforming Zimbabwe’s Animal Health and Food Safety Systems for the Future”) and DVS to sensitize farmers on biosecurity and biosafety measures, among others,” she said.
The field extension officers and department heads were from the Department of Veterinary Services, Agritex, Youth, Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises. In addition, BEST Matabeleland North project implementation staffs were present.
The BEST project is currently targeting 24 900 small to medium cattle producers in 10 districts of Zimbabwe namely Makoni, Buhera, Mt Darwin, Gokwe South, Shurugwi, Kwekwe, Umguza, Lupane, Chiredzi and Mwenezi. The project has a number of expected outcomes that it seeks to achieve, including; increased production and productivity of an environmentally sustainable beef value chain; and creating an enabling environment for a sustainable and inclusive beef value chain, among others.
The project is a consortium partnership of World Vision, Welthungerhilfe (WHH), Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT), Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC), Zimbabwe Agriculture Development Trust (ZADT) and Nurture Education Trust. BEST project is closely working Ministry of Agriculture Departments and other Government departments such as Youths, Women Affairs and Small to Medium Enterprises.