The Sunday News
Judith Phiri and Rutendo Nyeve
FARMERS have been urged to utilise recently launched ward information centres as they embrace technology in order to improve productivity.
The ward information centres with Information and Communications Technology(ICT) based platforms are designed to meet the extension and information needs of farmers.
Speaking at the official launch of the ward information centres in Insiza and Matobo Districts, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said the development will improve productivity, incomes and sustainability in the agriculture sector.
“Farming communities in Zimbabwe require robust information delivery systems that can improve productivity, incomes and sustainability in line with the Zimbabwe Agriculture and Food-systems Transformation Strategy.
“The ward information centres will reach over 100 000 farmers in the four districts. They also support Government’s ICT for Agriculture (ICT4Agri) strategy and are expected to transform the sharing of agricultural knowledge and the delivery of innovation in the sector,” he said.
He said that through the centers farmers would be able to see and adapt to climate smart technologies being practiced in other countries and read research work and findings from other countries.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said that the solar-powered resource centres are equipped with free Wi-Fi, tablets, and smart TV screens where farmers can access ICT based extension services, training and information in the form of digital publications, agriculture applications, podcasts and video tutorials.
He added: “The government has to date availed close to 3000 motor cycles and 5000 electronic gadgets to our frontline cadres, a move that will see reversal of the negative in agricultural production. I am reliably informed that Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS) has also supported extension officers with motor cycles and electronic gadgets.”
Filabusi Ward 16 Agritex supervisor Mrs Sarah Disman said the launch of the information centres come in handy for farmers and would complement their work as Agritex Officers.
“The centre will be of importance to the farmers. As Agritex Officers were given phones, there is free WiFi here which will help us in doing our lessons. We are now set to travel less distances doing extension work as farmers can come and learn at the centre. Extension officers can now share information while in different locations as well,” said Disman.
The two ward information centres launched this Tuesday are part of 24 centres that have been established under the European Union (EU)-funded ZAKIS project