Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Government, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, has launched the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) aimed at strengthening agricultural extension services in Zimbabwe.
The TCP, which is being funded by FAO to the tune of US$500 000, will be implemented over two years, from January 2021 to December 2022.
The initiative is aimed at boosting extension services to smallholder farmers, innovate with ICT platforms, support initial steps for digitalisation of the extension system, raise awareness and train farmers on emerging issues relating to climate proofing agriculture, soil conditioning (pH correction) and equipping 10 decentralised soil testing facilities.
The programme will be implemented in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP), Mutoko, Hurungwe and Chegutu.
Launching the programme today, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Secretary, Dr John Basera said Government was seized with revitalisation of the public extension delivery system to strategically position it to deliver at a level expected by the New Dispensation and as pronounced in national and many sub-sector blueprints guiding the agricultural sector.
“This project strongly supports our vision of revolutionising extension delivery support system to be responsive to farmers’ needs in the face of the ever-changing demands and climate,” he said. “This revolution will assist us in our quest to achieve increased production, productivity and profitability across all farm categories.
“The agriculture recovery plan recognizes the integral part played by extension agents in driving rural development. One of the key strategic interventions in the agricultural recovery plan focuses mainly on the overall capacitation of extension services delivery system. We have done a great deal collaboration and partnership on this and the results are pleasing, but we can still do more.”
Dr Basera expressed gratitude to complimentary efforts being played by FAO, through the provision of soil testing kits, tablets, motorcycles and training resources which he said was important in the achievement of the national Vision 2030.
In a speech read on his behalf by Dr Berhanu Bedane, FAO sub-regional co-ordinator for Southern Africa, Mr Patrice Talla said the programme addressed the FAO Strategic Objective SO2 and contributed to making agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable, leading to sustainably increased productivity while addressing climate change and environmental degradation in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.