The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
NONPROFIT, agricultural research institution, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) says there is need to harmonise agricultural research, education and extension in a bid to capacitate farmers with adequate knowledge to improve their productivity as the cropping season starts.
In an interview on the sidelines of a farmer centric, market oriented and sustainable agriculture technologies fair held at the Matopos Research Institute Agricultural Centre of Excellence (MACE), ICRISAT research and evaluation associate Mrs Angeline Mujeyi said the key objective for the fair was to harmonise the three arms.
“The agriculture technologies fair was carried out harmonise and to provide a platform for agricultural research, education and extension staff to look and learn, exchange knowledge and information on technologies under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS) in response to farmer needs,” said Mrs Mujeyi.
The MACE is one of the six Agricultural Centres of Excellence (ACEs) that were established by the Government under the European Union-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS) project.
She said that the technologies which were being exhibited followed a sustainable agricultural growth pathway in line with climate smart agriculture.
Mrs Mujeyi said that of importance were soil and water conservation technologies, integrated pest management and livestock productivity enhancing technologies among others.
She added: “As farmers prepare to start cropping they need to be aware of different infield water harvesting methods such as potholing, tied ridges, infiltration pits, basins for Pfumvudza/Intwasa and ripping, on which one can work best in their agro-ecological regions.”
Mrs Mujeyi said they had developed a wide range package of technologies that extension, education and research staff from the Northern and Southern parts of the country could tap in and disperse in their different areas.
She that the staff and lead farmers from Chibero Agricultural College, Henderson Research Station (Gokwe), Insiza, Mhondoro-Ngezi and Matobo, the turnaround of spreading the technologies would be cut short.
MACE chief research officer, Mr Gavious Sisito said that the private sector also played a critical role in the production and value chain of the produce from the farmers.
“More farmers benefit from smart partnerships that Agricultural Centres of Excellence (ACEs) have established with companies that supply inputs and equipment to Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector. ACEs are farmer-centric and inclusive multi-stakeholder platforms that bring together farmers and agriculture value chains,” said Mr Sisito.
He said that there was need for farmers to interact with the private sector and forge partnerships so as to utilize opportunities availed in various avenues.
Mr Sisito said with Covid-19 regulations and restrictions being eased they were aiming to see more of these agriculture technologies fairs so as to engage more farmers for needs assessment and provide information on how best to tackle challenges they would be facing in their respective places.
“We are going to see improvements on the next upcoming fairs as we have destroyed the silos between extension, agric education and research. As direct beneficiaries, extension officers will conduct trainings and embed the information acquired to farmers as these technological fairs are in support of the farmers.”
Matobo District Agritex Extension Officer, Mrs Francisca Ndlovu said with the knowledge acquired from the fair farmers could improve their production yields through implementing the new technologies for their dry region.
She said that the district was well prepared and ready to start the summer cropping with farmers receiving the inputs from Government in time.
Zakis development partners comprise Welthungerhilfe (WHH), Community Technology Development Organisation (CTDO), Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) and ICRISAT.