Zimbabwe launches an agricultural advisory forum

Government has officially launched the national forum for agricultural advisory services to improve communication and coordination among all players in the agricultural sector.

Gibson Chijarira, chief director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development said the launch of the forum was an important milestone for the country.

“Agricultural extension is a vehicle for timely advice and modernisation of our agricultural sector. The farmer is a key person and this forum is critical in conveying standardised extension messaging,” he said.

“There are so many players in the agricultural extension services sector and we have to ensure proper coordination in terms of the messages we give farmers. Conflicting messages does not benefit the farmer.”

The Zimbabwe Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (ZFAAS) aims to improve agricultural communication and knowledge management, sharing of best practices and networking among agricultural extension service providers in the country.

This forum brings together various stakeholders and actors in the agricultural extension sector to help benefit farmers with standardised and consistent messaging that will boost their crop productivity.
Dr Isiah Mharapara, chairperson of ZFAAS, said the launch of the forum was an important platform to fight misinformation and poor coordination among actors in the agricultural sector.

“This is a step in the right direction. There is a lot of extension messaging which is going out to the farmers and at times yhe messages are contradictory,” he said.

“We need to standadise and harmonise our messaging so that farmers get correct information that will help them boost their yields.”

The launch of ZFAAS was in fulfilment of the African Union agenda to promote and better coordinate the agricultural sector to enhance food security and transformed food systems.

ZFAAS is now the country chapter of the African Forum for Advisory for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) – pan African platform for sharing knowledge and best practices on extension services.

The World Hunger Help, a German development agency, supported the establishment and launch of ZFAAS through the Zimbabwe Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS) project.

“We need to promote coordination among all stakeholders to help transform the country’s agricultural sector through this platform,” said Kumbirai Nhongo, a ZAKIS project officer.

“This is part of a continental agenda by the AU to transform food systems in Africa. Most African countries now have vibrant forums and the launch of ZFAAS is a significant milestone for Zimbabwe.”

ZAKIS was spearheading projects to establish ward information centres to showcase farming best practices as well as the setting up of the Zim Agric Research Portal – a repository for agricultural research and innovation knowledge.

” We need to break the silos and work together so that our farmers really transform their food systems and boost productivity,” said Nhongo.

Said Dr Maria Goss, an agri-systems expert: “The launch of the forum is critical for improving all agricultural extension service communication strategies. Extension is key to food systems transformation.

“We need to harmonise and standadise the messages we give the farmers so that we avoid giving out conflicting messages.”

Nanganidzai Makoho, a Zimbabwe Farmers Union official, said the launch of the forum will help enhance farmers knowledge and boost their productivity.

“Knowledge and innovation is the way to go,” she said. “Extension is the backbone of farmers productivity and the launch of the forum should meet the needs of these farmers. Our farmers need to boost their yields and earnings.”

ZFAAS was formed in 2015 and registered as a trust in 2019.

Stakeholders are meeting to strategise and plan how the forum is going to operate in the country. – Herald