The Zimbabwe agriculture sector has over decades continued to register marked decline due to a plethora of factors inclusive but not exclusive to political; failure to harness the country core competencies; reduced investment into the sector, lack of clarity on agriculture education, extension and research policies, objectives, and goals necessary for economic recovery and growth.
Speaking to delegates at the recent Agriculture Education, Extension and Research Policy Consultative Workshop recently in Gweru, agriculture expert and consultant, Prof. Mandivamba Rukuni, said that the Zimbabwe agriculture education, extension and research has failed to register clarity on objectives, goals and purpose to agriculture recovery and economic growth.
Prof. Rukuni said that the sectors also failed to register meangful student throughput in the process failing to leverage local and international curricula trends.
Agriculture Education, Extension and Research, in Zimbabwe has also failed to benefit integration from primary, secondary to tertiary levels of study, with pronounced training and information gaps for farmers, the youth, women and even the extension workers and researchers themselves.
The sectors also failed to leverage non-formal training and education through virtual training, experiential education, social media integration, and harnessing information communication technologies, ICTs.
Of concern are the sectors persistent challenges of funding, the brain drain, obsolete technology and training materials, a crumpling economy characterised by runaway hyperinflation; rising cost of doing business; and several political and administrative bottlenecks and challenges.
The Agriculture Education, Extension and Research have also failed to satisfy farmers and stakeholders expectations as they continue to offer limited subject matter and content; limited geographic coverage, among other infrastructure and resource challenges.
In Zimbabwe most of public initiated agriculture research has tended to benefit the private research that is better streamlined and funded and quick to monetize research findings for a market hungry for new ways of production, new tools, seed varieties and breeds and other agriculture inputs.
Like agriculture extension and education, the Zimbabwe agriculture research is facing a plethora of challenges inclusive but not exclusive to:
- A deepening macro-economic crises that is import driven.
- Negative complex and deteriorating socio-political crises.
- Worsening market environment characteristic of a weakening market intelligence and weak market linkages; among others
- A high polarised and militarised society potentially ready to explode.
- A very precarious financial position characterised by policy incongruence and unpredictability.
There is marked difference from the agriculture policy thrust and direction what Zimbabwe has taken from those of many Asian countries. He said that many of these countries took less than ten years to recovery and growth taking their people out of poverty and doom, noted Prof. Rukuni.
The learned Prof. Rukuni, advised that Zimbabwe needs to ensure and strengthen linkages of industrialisation to the process of lifting farmers and the nation from poverty, through promotion of on-farm or in-situ proto-industrialisation and processing models.
Prof. Rukuni argued that proto-industrialisation has the capacity of creating a vibrant and diverse rural middle class with diversified consumption patterns of locally produced and processed goods, reducing significantly the heavy import burden.
The farmers start by appreciating, locally made small tools and machines and the proto industrialisation drive triggers demand for light industrialisation, inturn triggering heavy industrialisation.
By Francis Bingandadi Managing Editor AgroSeason