Mthabisi Tshuma, Business Correspondent
GOVERNMENT is set to roll out a programme to train agriculture extension (Agritex) teams and smallholder farmers who benefitted from a piggery scheme under the Presidential Livestock Inputs Support Programme, launched by President Mnangagwa in May.
The piggery scheme has seen an initial 10 000 weaners, donated by the largest private pig producer, Colcom’s Triple C, being distributed to beneficiaries.
These include agricultural colleges, research institutions, security services farms, women and youths among others.
The programme is aimed at boosting food and nutrition security and contributes to the growth of the economy. The scheme will also position Zimbabwe as one of the leading pig producers in the region.
Under the scheme, the pigs will be passed on after the first litter to the next approved farmers.
Launching the programme, President Mnangagwa said the scheme would complement the ongoing livestock programme covering cattle, goats, sheep, poultry and fisheries.
In a telephone interview, the deputy director in the Department of Agriculture Education and Farmer Training in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Mr Francis Vengai, said the training programme was meant to equip farmers with expert knowledge on the rearing of pigs.
The farmers will be trained on issues such as feeding and management, breeding and reproduction, financial literacy, records management, budgeting as well as piggery health and diseases among other lessons.
“The beneficiaries have already collected their piglets. The training programme is meant to equip beneficiaries of the piggery scheme and other farmers on the best methods of keeping pigs for commercial purpose and also taking note that they are going to pass the piglets to others hence the need to maximise production,” he said.
“In the training programme we will be working with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Youth, Arts, Sport and Recreatio, the Pig Industry Board of Zimbabwe, Empower Bank and the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank,” said Mr Vengai.
He said in light of the lockdown rules, which are meant to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, they will be training a maximum of 30 people per venue.
“We have managed to secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to facilitate the training with the people to be trained not to exceed 30 as the trainers will be less than 10 per venue.
“This training will therefore reduce the mortality rate of the piglets as farmers would be best equipped to take good care of the pigs,” he said.
Youth in Agriculture Apex Council Board (YAACB) Bulawayo chairperson, Mrs Nonceba Mwedzi-Agwaniru, said the training programme will ensure food security in the country and reduce the importation of pork and pork related products from outside the country.
“We are part of the beneficiaries of the piglets and a number of people who benefited had no knowledge of rearing pigs.
“In that light, we hope that through the training we will be able to strive in the pig business as farmers and be able to pass on the programme to others in the province,” said Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru.