Agritex officers receive horticulture training

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Blessings Mashaya

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mashayab@dailynews.co.zw

TWENTY FIVE agricultural extension officers from Matobo, Mhondoro Ngezi, Insiza and Chegutu recently underwent a horticulture production training to enhance their capacity to address farmers’ needs.

The training took place at Prime SeedCo’s Vegetable Trial Station in Mount Hampden, just outside Harare and was hosted by the European Union-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge, Innovation Services (Zakis) project and local seed house, Prime SeedCo.

Zakis is part of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme, a government initiative aimed at improving the lives of farmers and value chain actors by harmonising and strengthening the delivery of research, education, and extension services to the farming community.

The project has an ongoing programme of learning events that are designed to equip extension officers with the skills to meet the changing needs of farmers and contribute to the growth of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector.

Commenting on the training, Zakis head of project, Waddilove Sansole said: “We are working to build the capacity of government extension service providers to ensure that they can better deliver their mandate, which is to effectively address farmer needs and establish a market-oriented agricultural sector.”

The topics that were covered during the two-day workshop include crop nutrition, field and greenhouse tomato, pepper, and cucumber production. The participants were also trained on field production of onions, cabbage, rape, cauliflower, broccoli, butternuts, and watermelons. Other topics included post-harvest handling, the marketing of horticulture crops, and crop protection from insect pests, weeds and diseases.

In an interview on the sidelines of the workshop, one of the participants, Matobo district agricultural extension officer Francisca Ndlovu said: “This training is an eye-opener. It is very informative because it combines theory with practical field and greenhouse demonstrations. The most important things that I learned here are the nutrient requirements for different crops and the kind of fertiliser programmes that meet these requirements. This has come at the right time because, as a department, we are encouraging farmers to diversify into cash crops to improve their incomes and supplement their food and nutrition. So, going forward, we will impart this knowledge to our farmers.”

Prime SeedCo vegetable product development manager Silas Mutota said: “The main reason we are doing this training is to ensure that farmers improve their yields.”

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