Agric Ministry to digitize records Mr Tawanda Blessing Nekati-Kandemiviri - Agritex principal training specialist

Munya Simango Herald Correspondent

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement recently initiated a records digitization process for its education, research, and extension departments.

The initiative is supported by the European Union (EU)-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS) project.

In an interview recently, the ZAKIS head of project Mr Kumbirai Nhongo said, “Our support is part of the ZAKIS project mandate to provide ICT for Development (ICT4D) innovations and solutions that improve efficiencies within the sector.

“The initiative will convert hard copy knowledge resources into digital formats and create an online archive which can be easily accessed remotely. This will therefore facilitate access by a broader audience, among them researchers, students, academia, extension staff and farmers, for the benefit of the entire agriculture sector.”

The digitization process will be managed by the Ministry’s Communications and Learning Unit (CLU) whose mandate includes the storage of knowledge and facilitating access to information, communication and ICT4D.

The members of the unit are drawn from the departments of agriculture research, education, and extension.

Commenting on the exercise, Agritex principal training specialist and CLU member Mr Tawanda Blessing Nekati-Kandemiviri said that digitization of knowledge resources and records is a growing trend worldwide.

“Our archives hold priceless information which is not easily accessible to departments and institutes within the ministry and our stakeholders. Digitization will therefore enable us to preserve, effectively manage and efficiently share the knowledge resources. These include research papers, magazines, technical reports, journals, conference papers, training manuals and handbooks.”

ZAKIS communications officer Mr Kinwell Madhazi added that the initiative will create a backup that mitigates against the loss of valuable documents through fires, floods, or careless handling.

“After conversion, all this information will be uploaded onto ZimAgriHub and the Ministry’s websites to create a well-organized collection of all existing material that is currently scattered in libraries across various departments, research institutes and agricultural colleges,” said Mr Madhazi.

The ZAKIS project seeks to improve Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector by enhancing the dissemination of agricultural knowledge, stimulating innovation, and harmonising the delivery of agricultural research, education, and extension services.

It is implemented by a consortium of local and international agricultural specialist NGOs, comprising Welthungerhilfe (WHH), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Community Technology Development Organisation (CTDO), and Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT).

The project is part of the €40 million, EU-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP), which is a response to the challenges within the country’s agriculture sector.

The programme seeks to contribute to the development of a diversified and efficient agriculture sector that promotes inclusive green economic growth. Its focus is on increasing profitability, building the capacity of farmers, service institutions, and the private sector through increased investment, institutional reforms, and policy alignment.

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