Friday, September 16, 2011

(HERALD) ZOU runs training programme for farmers

ZOU runs training programme for farmers
Friday, 16 September 2011 02:00
Agriculture Reporter

ZIMBABWE Open University in conjunction with Zimbabwe Progressive Tobacco Farmers Union has launched a farmer- training programme to equip growers with requisite skills and knowledge on tobacco production.

The 14-month programme, which is being run in Marondera, was introduced after a realisation that many people were venturing into tobacco farming but lacked adequate skills thereby reducing the quality and quantity of the crop. Speaking at the a launch of the training programme, ZOU Vice Chancellor, Dr Primrose Kurasha said the university was now moving into the people to educate them.

"Every willing farmer can participate in the programme. Farmers will get certificates at the end of the programme and those willing can continue upgrading themselves up to the degree levels," she said.

The programme covers all aspects of tobacco production from seedbed to the time it is sold at the floors. The lessons also follow the tobacco calendar with the bulk of the training being done practically.

Tobacco Research Board official, Mr Ezekia Svotwa said most tobacco growers were getting low yields hence the need to educate them to boost production.

"We are having problems with farmers who do not pay detail to important aspects in tobacco production. Planting should be done timely. Some incur losses as they delay to harvest while others do not know how to grade their crop.

"This has resulted in many getting low prices for their crop at the auction floors and in the end farmers cry foul," he said.

He said the farmer-training programme was a noble one and would allow the farmers to learn together with their families.

ZOU director, Centre for Professional Development, Dr Miidzo Mavesera said the programme would begin with farmers in Mashonaland provinces and spread to other provinces.

"The tobacco cycle starts in June from the seedbed and runs to selling of the crop. We will make an evaluation after the selling season to assess the impact of the training on farmers," she said.

Dr Mavesera said the open distance learning aspect would allow farmers more time at their farms and therefore will not affect production.

There are 600 farmers undergoing training in Marondera and the programme will benefit 22 tobacco districts in the area.

Mashonaland East Provincial Governor, Cde Aeneas Chigwedere, said the Svosve people were the pioneers of the land reform and now they are pioneering the farmer-training programme.

"Tobacco production is a business that requires adequate knowledge if one is to make meaningful profit from the industry," he said in a speech read on his behalf by Marondera district administrator Mr James Chiware.

He encouraged the community to practice safe farming practices that do not harm the environment.

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