Elita Chikwati & Lynn Munjanja
HARARE – Government is set to re-introduce master farmer training programme to boost productivity at farms and ensure national food security.
Farmers will also be required to be full time on the farms or employ professional managers who have the technical expertise on agriculture.
This was said by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister, Douglas Karoro during the Climate change management seminar organised by the ministry’s youth desk.
Deputy Minister Karoro said it was important that farmers are equipped with the requisite knowledge so they can boost production.
“Farmer training used to be mandatory to ensure farmers have knowledge. We want both A1 and A2 to be effectively trained. We want to resuscitate the master farmer training programme because we are very serious when it comes to production and productivity.
“We want to bring in this idea that either you have to be on the farm or you employ a qualified farm manager because the idea is that we want to increase production. Farmers should be prepared for this.
“It is either you are on the farm or you employ qualified managers with requisite skills to increase production and productivity. A person cannot be everything at the same time. You cannot be a teacher, journalist and farmer at the same time.
“Some people are cell phone farmers and rarely on the farm. We will soon come up with a policy to ensure that only those willing to be full time or those who have qualified mangers are on the farm,” he said.
Government has on several occasions warned absentee farmers that they risk losing their farms and urged beneficiaries of the land reform to farming as a serious business.
Farmers also holding on to large tracts of land and not fully utilising it have also been encouraged to give up some land for redistribution to the landless.
Government is also carrying out land audit to identify land utilisation patterns and optimal farming activities which influence appropriate policies for increased agricultural productivity, poverty alleviation and sustainable utilisation of agricultural land.