By Byron Mutingwende
Ms. Caroline Mozhendi, the Econet Head of Agribusiness has encouraged the use of technology to combat the effects of climate change by farmers in Zimbabwe.
Ms. Mozhendi made the remarks during an event whereby Ecofarmer joined the Shamva Agricultural College in celebrating 34 students who graduated at the institution on Friday 9 November 2018.
She said the graduation occurred at a time when practitioners around the world are increasingly seeking ways to optimise agricultural training in order to modernise agriculture, improve production efficiency, and achieve food and nutrition security, in the face of climate change.
“I wish to express my gratitude to Shamva Agricultural College, for inviting Econet Wireless to be part of this momentous graduation and prize giving ceremony. With a profound sense of honour, I welcome you all to the 6th Graduation Ceremony of Shamva Agricultural College, which is running under the theme, “Agricultural Education and Farmer Training for Sustainable Production in the Face of Climate Change.”
“When I learnt of the theme of this momentous occasion, I then asked myself, “What do a scientist, a reverend, a fisherman, and a farmer have in common?” At first attempt I realised that they share the same home, which is the mother earth, granted to us by the Almighty God. Immediately other follow up questions came up, “what happens if the home is exposed to floods, droughts, heat waves, and storms with increasing frequency and severity? Are they all going to share a common desire to survive and prosper? Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to reflect on the threats climate change,” Ms. Mozhendi said.
The agri-business expert revealed that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and Cassava SmartTech have been increasingly seeking ways to contribute to the reduction of the effects of climate change using technology.
“Our desire ladies and gentlemen is to see how we can improve the lives of our farmers in Zimbabwe whom we all know to be the major contributors to our economic wellbeing. Through our Cassava SmartTech Group, we have made a deliberate focus to develop an AgriTech platform which most of us would know as EcoFarmer.
“Our EcoFarmer platform provides a bundle of advisory and information services, financial services, value chain and trading services as well as the Internet of Things (IOT) based services. EcoFarmer currently leverages satellite weather data, which our farmers can access via their mobile phones to check location based specific weather information, allowing them to make some important decisions for their farms,” Ms. Mozhendi said.
As a step towards combatting the effects of climate induced losses, farmers on the Ecofarmer platform have access to weather index insurance which allows them to receive a pay-out in the event that their maize crop is subjected to excessive or too little rain in their farming locations.
Agricultural training curricula today have been adapted to match the industrial skills requirements and to keep pace with technological trends at a global level.
Ms Mozhendi said she was hopeful that the knowledge and skills acquired by the Shamva graduates would assist farmers, agribusinesses, and all public institutions involved in agricultural development, to further comprehend the global challenges in the agricultural sector.
Technology offers vast opportunities within the agriculture sector. The Shamva Agricultural College’s approach of training farmers allows them to learn through practice and theory.
The private sector was urged to find ways to help graduates and farmers through sustainable inclusive business models. Along the agricultural value chain – there are lots of opportunities. The graduates were encouraged to exploit the enormous potential of the agricultural value-chain by providing market-relevant agricultural skills and ICTs for the transformation of the sector.
Shamva Agricultural College is a government college, which operates under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural resettlement. It was opened in 2011. The college is temporarily housed at SOS Children’s Village Zimbabwe, which is 12km from Bindura, along Bindura-Shamva road. Its permanent site is at Panmure Farm which is yet to be constructed.
The current place has a capacity of enrolling 64 students targeting to construct a state of the art college accommodating 400 students, which can cater for all levels (farmers, certificate, diploma and degree.)