JUST IN: New agric education curriculum on the cards

Munya Simango Correspondent
In line with Government’s drive to transform Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector, the Ministry of Lands Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement in collaboration with the Community Technology Development Organization (CTDO) have produced a draft for a new agriculture education curriculum for agricultural colleges.

The new curriculum, which is expected to be implemented by August this year, is a result of the multi-stakeholder curriculum review process that was supported by the European Union under the Zimbabwe Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems (ZAKIS) project.

ZAKIS head of project Mr. Waddilove Sansole said that a key outcome of the ZAKIS project involves supporting the development of a practical, relevant, farmer-centered and market-oriented agricultural education system that is informed by research.

“The new curriculum, is geared to meet the current and future needs of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector as it embraces new and dynamic ways of working and modern farming practices with a particular focus on hands-on experience as well as appropriate equipment and technologies,” he said.

Some of content in the new draft include farming as a business, increased production and productivity, market orientation, specialized training, and an expanded practical regime, ICT, value addition, climate change, climate smart agriculture, new value chains and early warning systems.

Commenting on the curriculum review process, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary Dr. John Basera said, “Agricultural education, extension and research are the central ingredients of agricultural transformation and we need a robust education system for us to successfully transform agriculture in line with our Agriculture and Food Systems Strategy.”

The new curriculum comes at a time when stakeholders in the agriculture sector have for some time raised concerns on the failure of the current curriculum to meet the present and future needs of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector.

CTDO agricultural education advisor for ZAKIS Mr. Patrick Kasasa said that the Food and Agriculture Organization and the CTDO last year collaborated with the Department of Agricultural Education and Farmer Training to conduct a nationwide consultation process to gather input from a broad spectrum of agriculture sector stakeholders.

“The stakeholders called for a review and re-orientation of Zimbabwe’s agricultural education curriculum and pointed out that it does not prepare students for the new realities in the sector and that it is not relevant to the new production and market systems.”
He added that the current curriculum only focuses on traditional large-scale farming systems and a limited range of value-chains that only include maize, soya bean, wheat, barley and beef.

“This focus does not meet the needs of the current agriculture operating environment and is it not relevant to the new reality of smaller scale production systems which were ushered in by the land reform programme,” said Mr. Kasasa.

The ZAKIS project which falls under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme seeks to improve farmers’ livelihoods by enhancing the dissemination of agricultural knowledge and stimulating innovation through strengthening the working links among agricultural research, education, and extension services in Zimbabwe. It is implemented by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement with the support from a consortium of local and international agriculture specialist NGOs which includes Welthungerhilfe, Community Technology Development Organisation, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and Sustainable Agriculture Technology.

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