By Joyce Mukucha
In the quest to improve agricultural productivity, the government is in the process of disbursing motorcycles and mobile tablets to the extension officers.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr John Basera told the media that the provision of extension services will play a crucial role in terms of transforming agriculture and indicated that agriculture has to be put at the centre of achieving Vision 2030 goals.
When agricultural productivity is enhanced through extension provision and mobility, Dr. Basera stressed that it will assist the nation to cut importation costs, enable job creation as agriculture is expected to create jobs for over 67 percent of the population.
“We believe as a sector and a ministry that for us to get agriculture right, there is a need to address issues to do with extension provision and mobility and issues around refresher courses for our extension officers because they play a very pivotal role by making sure that farmers are productive.
“So we are doing that exercise as enshrined in the Agriculture Recovery Plan and we received some support from His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe of 5 000 motorcycles and we are receiving those motorcycles since October 2020,” said Dr. Basera.
So far, he said, over 2 500 motorcycles have been received and by end of March 2021 the distribution process is expected to be through.
He indicated that when the extension mobility component correctly is correctly received, it can be also guaranteed that agriculture can also go right.
“So we believe that when we get the extension mobility right, then we would be able to get our extension services right as well our agriculture. There is no doubt and we cannot overemphasize the importance of extension services provided especially to farmers.”
Considering that the world is evolving with technological advancement, extension officers were not only being supported in terms of mobility issues but even in terms of having access to the internet of things particularly catching up with climate change issues so that they will be able to impart adequate knowledge to farmers.
In line with this, Dr. Basera said over 5 000 tablets were being distributed and the process has already started with 1000 tablets disbursed.
“We are uploading some apps as well as some provisions for the extension officers to do refresher courses and online learning. That is, for them to refresh, it is important because the world is dynamic and climate is changing so obviously they need to keep abreast of the latest developments and emerging issues.”
On that platform, Dr. Basera said they will be able to avail to farmers all the latest emerging information to do with climate change, new pests, aand variabilities among other emerging issues.