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Zim agro-innovators attend SADC rural innovation and development expo

Zim agro-innovators attend SADC rural innovation and development expo

Story by Justin Mahlahla

Five Zimbabwean youths who are leading in agricultural innovation are participating at a regional expo discussing innovative ways of accelerating rural development and transformation in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The five, who are part of the Zimbabwean delegation to the SADC Rural Innovation and Transformation Expo, which runs from the 27th to the 28th of September, are Simon Nyabadza, Nicholas Mudzungwa, Zororo Taruvinga, Portia Maphosa and Innocent Munyaradzi Grace.

The young innovators are specialists in cropping and soil science, cropping and value addition, animal products and ICTs in agriculture.

The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Honourable Vangelis Haritatos is leading the Zimbabwean delegation, joining several Ministers of Agriculture from the region.

He is accompanied by officials from his ministry, among them development expert and Chief Programmes Coordinator of the Agriculture Youth Desk in the Ministry, Mr Nickros Kajengo, Agriculture4 She coordinator, Ms Chipo Zishiri and others.

Developing countries need to dramatically increase agricultural innovation and the use of technology by farmers to eliminate poverty, meet the rising demand for food and cope with the adverse effects of climate change, said Mr Kajengo.

“The relative stagnation in agricultural productivity in recent decades, particularly in South Asia and Africa, where the vast majority of the poor people live, underscores the need for new ideas to improve rural livelihoods.”

“Renewed investment to increase new knowledge and ensure its adoption can help harness the large potential gains to be made in agricultural productivity and, hence, income.

“80 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas, with most relying on farming for their livelihood. Poverty reduction efforts, thus, need an intensive focus on raising agricultural productivity, which has the largest impact of any sector on poverty reduction, roughly twice that of manufacturing.

“In view of this, we are grateful to His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa, the Honourable Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr A. J. Masuka and the Permanent Secretary, Dr John Basera for supporting innovation, women and youth mainstreaming,” he said.

Speaking to the ZBC News, one of the youths, Nicholas Mudzungwa, who is also One United Africa president said, “As One United Africa, the rural transformation expo has been an eye opening experience. Innovation in agriculture, climate proofing, and soil conservation is the way to go, especially when faced with El Nino phenomenon.

“We indeed give thanks to President Mnangagwa and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr Anxious Masuka for spearheading technological innovation in rural communities through youth-driven initiatives One United Africa has indeed done a great job in imparting innovation initiatives through trainings conducted in the various rural communities such as Rushinga, Mbire and Wedza.

“The main focus of the initiatives is value addition and agro-processing for instance castor bean processing.”

Delegates are also expected to deliberate on emerging challenges of rural development, policy gaps and solutions in an increasingly digital world, as well as innovative solutions to the agro-processing value chain.

Other key areas to be discussed include access to markets, use of data in rural development, synergies between rural and urban areas and scaling up impactful interventions of rural development through South-South cooperation and public private partnerships.

The role of the youths as drivers of rural transformation will also be tabled at the expo.

The expo dovetails with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind as the country works to promote inclusive socio-economic development that is hinged on rural industrialisation.

Other countries that are also participating at the expo include Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Cote d’ Ivoire, Namibia, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa, Gambia and Benin, among others.

Global institutions such as the African Union, NEPAD, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nations are also taking part at the expo.

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