Andile Tshuma (Chronicle Business Reporter)
SMALL-HOLDER farmers should embrace Information and Communication Technologies to access information on latest production techniques and connecting to markets.
Speaking at a workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) in Lupane on Wednesday, Harare Institute of Technology official, Ms Thabani Dundu, said modern technologies had become a lifeline of successful business projects. “We encourage young upcoming farmers to use new Information and Communication Technologies when coming up with business plans for various projects. For instance, now there is WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and vending websites and applications such as Tenga, and Ownai. These can help young farmers broaden their market and expand their territories,” she said.Ms Dundu urged youths to subscribe to services that allow them to learn about what other farmers are doing around the country and beyond. “Budding farmers can make great use of the Internet to learn about eco-friendly agricultural innovations that can help them do things better while preserving the environment. Services such as Eco-farmer can be used by farmers to insure their farming or poultry or even livestock projects, so that should disaster strike, they have somewhere to start,” she said.
Speaking to Business Chronicle, ZFU Matabeleland North provincial manager Ms Esther Mwanza said projects such as the Young Farmers’ Club played a big role in motivating youths to engage in farming activities as a way of building sustainable income in a harsh economic terrain. “Such projects are very important, especially in the rural areas because our youths tend to see going to South Africa as the only way out of poverty. We are trying to inspire them to see that from our natural resources, wealth can be created. For instance, we have a Thuthuka poultry project, which has been running for six months,” she said. “The seven-member cooperative started with only two chickens but now they have over 87, in a space of about five months. They have sold more than 50 chickens, in two batches. Wealth is in the mind, and in the will to take up initiative and do something. “MS Mwanza said youths should not always wait for donors to fund projects but can start small and achieve greatness, with whatever that the environment can offer. The workshop was attended by local young women farmers, the banking sector and stakeholders from different sectors of the economy that are agriculture-linked.