TIMB’s GAP training to usher sustainable farming revolution
Tariro Stacey Gatsi
THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) recently moved to launch an inaugural global good agronomic practices (GAP) training to equip farmers and other key stakeholders on the general regulation principles and criteria for production processes that conform with sustainable agricultural production requirements.
TIMB chief executive officer Mr Emmanuel Matsvaire said the exercise was ongoing and was still open for more subscribers to join.
“Among the attendees are students, lecturers, farmers, staff contractors and representatives from agricultural organisations. The diversity of participants highlights the inclusivity of the programme,” he added.
TIMB has taken a friendly step in implementing this training as it focuses mainly on promoting tobacco farmers as well as those doing other crops.
“We will be equipping tobacco farmers with skills and knowledge to venture into other farming disciplines successfully but with strict observation of safe and sustainable methods,” said Matsvaire.
The global gap training programme is part of TIMB’s broader vision to transform the agricultural landscape and ensure long viability of the industry, by empowering tobacco growers with skills and knowledge.
“The training caters for everyone and a small fee is charged for one to take part in the global gap training,” he added.
TIMB’s training programme that will span for multiple days, offers a unique opportunity for participants to exchange ideas on enhancing agricultural productivity while minimising the industry’s ecological footprints.
Global GAP is a farm assurance standard aimed at ensuring the production of safe food sustainably. The standard’s focal points include food safety, environmental protection, environmental protection and continuous improvement. Most off-takers of horticultural crops around the world require producers to be certified for this standard. Apart from helping farmers to access high value markets, the GAP standard helps farmers to efficiently manage their farms and environment as well as ensuring that farm workers are treated with utmost dignity.
TIMB head of business development Mr Tapiwa Chimedza said their training was targeting all stakeholders within the horticultural value chain in Zimbabwe adding that GAP takes a holistic approach that includes farmers, retailers, processors and many other stakeholders.
“We are paying particular attention to farmers. We believe that every farmer is a potential tobacco farmer, hence we are not segregating. The overall objective is to enhance agricultural diversification in our tobacco farmlands. We have pioneered and are steering this diversification to enable tobacco farmers to get at least 30 percent of their income from tobacco by 2025 in line with the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan.
“The inaugural training was diverse in terms of participants’ composition. It was attended by key sustainability professionals from the tobacco industry, farmers and agronomists. The training was oversubscribed with more than 95 percent of the participants saying the training was relevant to their daily activities,” he said.
Mr Chimedza said at least 90 percent of attendees had indicated that they needed more capacity building trainings, adding they would be conducting both public and in-house trainings next year.
He also revealed that 37 people had attended the training, which he said would provide knowledge and skills to both small and large-scale farmers.
The theoretical knowledge participants will have an opportunity to engage in hands-on training sessions and offer valuable platform for farmers to witness sustainable practices in action while gaining first-hand experience in their application.