The Sunday News
Johnsias Mutonhori, Midlands Correspondent
THE Government has capacitated all the eight agricultural colleges in the country with new tractors, accessory planters and motor cycles for students on training, a development which is aimed at providing learners with requisite skills, knowledge and competencies.
The development comes at a time when agricultural colleges have fully implemented the Agricultural for Development (AE4D) 5.0 curricular that was launched two years ago to transform the education system.
Speaking at the 23th annual graduation ceremony held at Mlezu Agricultural College in Kwekwe on Friday, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Davis Marapira said the capacitation of agricultural colleges was in line with the National Development Strategy 1.
“It is pleasing to note that it is now a year since the Government successfully transformed our education curricula from Agricultural Education 2.0, whose outputs were trainers and extensionists to Agricultural Education for Development 5.0 (AE4D 5.0) curricula which is one of the milestones in our Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, a key pillar for National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025).
“Government has now managed to capacitate all the eight agricultural colleges with new tractors, accessory planters and motor cycles for practical student training. It is our hope that the private sector and development partners will complement Government efforts through Public — Private Partnerships to accelerate progress,” he said.
Deputy Minister Marapira said the graduating class of 119 students was the last cohort to undergo training under the Agricultural Educa market. He said he was looking forward to the new crop of agricultural graduates as agents of transformation.
“It is therefore pleasing for us to witness the injection of yet another group of young agriculture professionals into our agriculture sector, and this increase in the number of agriculture practitioners should also translate into improved production and productivity, especially in the rural areas where 70 percent of the population derive their livelihood from agriculture.
“It is worth noting that the future of agriculture in our country lies in the hands of young men and women who are graduating from our agricultural colleges and other institutions of higher learning,” he said.
He added that the ministry recently oversaw the launch of smallholder irrigation rehabilitation and the Presidential small livestock — poultry pass on scheme. He said that was in light of President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement that no household and no village should be left behind as the country moves towards the attainment of Vision 2030.
“Our ministry’s eco — chamber strategy is ‘development that leaves no household and no village behind’ anchored on the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy and National Development Strategy 1,” he said.
Deputy Minister Marapira said the partnership with the Midlands State University ensures the department of agricultural education and various colleges produce knowledge, skilled and entrepreneurial graduates required by the agricultural sector.
He said they should also rhyme with the education for development 5.0, thrust of producing goods and services, while complementing AE4D 5.0.
“In that regard, I cherish the continued existence of the partnership and support of the Midlands State University towards transformining and amplifying the contribution of our colleges to the growth of Zimbabwe as we march towards the realisation of Vision 2030,” he said.
Minister Marapira said the Ministry also recently launched the solarisation of agricultural colleges to ensure that the student learning programmes were not hampered.
“I wish to remind you that the Ministry is using green energy sources to mitigate the effects of climate change through solarisation of agricultural colleges to ensure the provision of constant and undisrupted electrical energy as an essential condition for effective e-learning, research as well as innovation,” he said.
Mlezu Agricultural College deputy principal Mr Joshua Maruza said the agricultural college has been innovating in several ways with the introduction of greenhouse technology, garlic production, dairy farming and fodder crop production.
He said online learning had just been started at the learning institution under the ZOAC banner.
In terms of the 2023 – 2024 productive year plan, the learning institution managed to plant 3,5 hectares of wheat under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
“The college managed to extend solar power to the library, board room and great hall. Solar has also been installed at the kitchen which now acts as a backup system in case of power cuts. The college managed to plant 3,5 ha of winter wheat, courtesy of the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme,” he said.
The best overall student was Lloyd Mhlanga who was best in farm accounting, irrigation, conservation work, tobacco production, land use among other categories.
He walked away with prizes that included maize seed, fertiliser, monetary packages, shields trophies among others.