Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Insiza District Agricultural Centre of Excellence (IDACE) is working on expanding its operations through developing commercial small-stock rearing projects that include poultry and fisheries aimed at increasing incomes for farmers.
The organisation was set up under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS), which is part of the EU-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) that was launched in Zimbabwe in June 2019.
The €40 million initiative seeks to boost the beef, dairy, pig, goat and poultry production, complemented by ZAKIS, which works closely with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement to co-ordinate market-oriented education and extension services across the five value chains.
Speaking on the sidelines of the IDACE familiarisation tour by ZAKIS on Tuesday, Insiza District agricultural extension officer, Mr Augustine Mhike, said their expansion targets projects that assist farmers to generate and earn income throughout the year.
“IDACE brings together agriculture, research, education, extension and end beneficiaries who are the farmers. We are planning to implement more projects because of the drip irrigation system that was installed here,” he said.
“Farmers will get more knowledge on various projects, which they can then go and implement at their homesteads and be able to generate income January to December.”
Mr Mhike said by the end of the year going into early 2022, projects such as small-stock rearing, fisheries, poultry and goats should be up and running. He said farmers will be equipped with more knowledge on how to make their projects successful. Plans are also underway, based on the success of the initial projects, to develop a small dairy processing centre to be able to produce dairy products that would be sold to locals and nearby markets.
“We can even expand to Bulawayo, Gwanda and Zvishavane who are our neighbours,” he added.
Mr Mhike urged farmers to utilise the IDACE window and collaborate more with educational and research institutions such as Lupane State University and Matopos Research Institute to be exposed to scientific knowledge. In view of climate factors, he said should be equipped towards resilience.
Insiza farmers are expecting a promising productive harvest under the Government sponsored Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme. Insiza Shamba Village 9A farmer, Mr Madala Masukume, said they were happy about the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme and hoped for a good harvest.
ZAKIS extension advisor, Mr Ronald Veremu, said they were impressed with the work being done at the Insiza DACE and applauded their collaboration with students from various educational and research institutions. ZAKIS has pledged to continue supporting farmers as it responds to pillar II of the National Agriculture Policy Framework (2019-2030).