The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (Zakis) has said that the new Agricultural Education for Development (AE4D) 5.0 curricula feeds into the global agricultural research systems and sets the country on the map to compete globally in terms of agricultural students training.
The curriculum was launched last Wednesday by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka. Zakis, which is part of a larger European Union-funded project, the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP), initiated the review of the old curriculum.
Under Zakis, the Community Technology Development Organisation (CTDO) spearheaded the development process of the new curriculum in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement. In an interview, Zakis head of project, Mr Waddilove Sansole said the new curriculum feeds into the global agricultural research systems.
“The new curriculum is expected to respond to the needs of the economy and provide learners with skills, knowledge and competencies important for the labour market, personal development and active citizenship. It also feeds into the global agricultural research systems of Sustainable Development Goal 2 of zero hunger, nature maintenance of preserving the environment and climate smart agriculture among others,” said Mr Sansole.
He said the curriculum presented the country with an opportunity to compete globally when it comes to training of agricultural students as new agriculture technologies were to be introduced. Mr Sansole said this was an opportunity for agricultural students to be able to transition even into the regional markets and provide valuable goods and services under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The curriculum was launched at a good time when there is the AfCFTA which agricultural students can utilise. We should be able to export quite a number of agricultural goods and services, while supporting agriculture productivity,” he said.
He said while the curriculum focused on training, business advisory, research, innovation and entrepreneurship, it was broader in the sense that agricultural students, farmers and the value chain could all benefit. Mr Sansole said it was an important document that plays directly into the various strategic documents or pillars of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement.
“It is in sync with some of the ministry pillars such as livestock development plan or agriculture transformation. So, the idea behind this curriculum is to incorporate the new agrarian structure in the country and then produce a product that can be of relevance to the value chain actors, public research, extension and agric education. Delivering a reviewed curriculum was one of the major milestones of the Zakis project.”
CTDO head and executive director, Mr Andrew Mushita said the new curriculum was key and fundamental as it will bring on board new products that will not only be looking at the entire agriculture value chain but will also be capable of being entrepreneurs in their own right. He said after college, most students will not be looking for employment but rather combine commercialisation and creation of new agriculture economic enterprises.
“They will have the capacity to combine these because they will have acquired skills in agriculture development, business management through the whole value chain among others,” said Mr Mushita.
During the launch, Dr Masuka said the rigid agricultural education system had not been responding to the requirements of farmers resettled under the land reform programme, with production and productivity negatively affected.
He said the target to achieve an empowered and prosperous upper middle-income society by 2030, as enunciated by the President Mnangagwa requires a new education paradigm as agriculture is the core of rural development and rural transformation to power the improvement of livelihoods. Dr Masuku said that Zimbabwe’s journey to 2030 was guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS1).
“The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy (2020-2025) is an important component of NDS1. It seeks to transform lives and livelihoods. This must be propelled by a new education system.”
European Union representative Mr Martin Zhou said the curriculum also responds to the national policy landscape relevant to agriculture.
“These include the Zimbabwe Vision 2030: which seeks to grow the country into a middle-income economy by 2030, National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025): First 5-year Medium Term Plan aimed at realising Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 through strategies of import substitution through growing local value chains based on Zimbabwe’s own comparative advantages.”