|Equip farmers with technical skills, Agritex told|
|Thursday, 28 June 2012 21:27|
GOVERNMENT has challenged Agritex officers to equip farmers with technical skills that guarantee continuity of donor funded projects when the donors eventually leave. In an interview during a tour of agriculture projects in Guruve by a delegation of permanent representatives to the Food and Agriculture Organisation on Tuesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Mr Ngoni Masoka, said farmers needed skills to sustain the projects.
The delegation that comprised delegates from seven countries that include Indonesia, Iran, Morocco, Switzerland, France, the United States of America as well as the European Union advisor to the United Nations Organisations in Rome toured poultry, dip tank rehabilitation and food storage projects in the district.
“Farmers doing projects with assistance from donors and their co-operating partners must be prepared for life after the donors. Most projects die immediately after the departure of the facilitators.
“Agritex must therefore train these farmers seriously on the technical aspect of keeping the projects running even after the initiators are gone,” he said.
Mr Masoka bemoaned the current scenario in which projects were only blossoming when the donor was still around only to fold up as soon as the donor completes the mission.
Extension officers, he said, should also adopt the new technologies donors bring into the communities and train farmers on the efficient and productive use of the knowledge. He made the observation after inspecting poultry projects in which farmers are using deep litter and battery cage systems in Gweshe Village. The EU through FAO funded the poultry projects currently running in Gweshe Village (Ward 7). A total of 350 families are benefiting and have each received between 20 and 40 pullets for egg production. Lower Guruve Development Association Programme co-ordinator, Ms Sekai Janga, said the projects were contributing to food security on the household level while the families were also generating some income.
“Each of the families is getting 16 eggs per day on average and earning a monthly income of US$52 and consume about 180 eggs per month worth US$30. In essence the farmers are earning at least US$82 per month, which is significant in meeting some of their domestic concerns. They are also taking care of their nutritional concerns without spending money,” said Ms Janga.
She added that they prioritised widows, orphans, HIV positive people and single parents when they selected people for the project as a way of economically empowering them.
Earlier, the delegation visited Shinje Dip Tank that was rehabilitated under the FAO projects too. A total of 390 livestock owners from 12 villages use the dip tank where 1 985 cattle currently go for dipping. Acting principal director in the Livestock and Veterinary Services Department Mr William Shereni said the FAO programme had vastly helped livestock farmers in the Guruve district and the country at large.
Head of the FAO delegation Dr Gaoju Han, a Chinese national said the projects in Guruve were going on well and were beneficial to most smallholder farmers. The FAO delegation arrived in Zimbabwe on Sunday and left for Mozambique yesterday to assess similar agricultural projects in that country.