ZIMBABWE’S ailing agricultural sector has received a timely boost after the European Union (EU) availed over $7 million towards funding the training of agricultural extension workers, as part of efforts to improve sustainable farming.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a statement, the EU Delegation in Harare headed by Ambassador Philippe Van Damme launched a new call for proposals to support improved service delivery by public private partnerships.
“In total, the EU is providing ₧6 000 000 ($7 149 600) for a project that aims at promoting sustainable service delivery in the field of research, education and extension for improved contribution to wealth creation and agricultural growth.
“The target groups of this support include the Departments of Research and Specialist Services and of Agriculture Education and Farmer Training, Agritex and Ministry of Youth and Indigenisation,” the statement said.
Government in the past has accused the EU delegation along with other foreign embassies in Harare, of funding “regime change” programmes in Zimbabwe under the guise of promoting human rights and other social safety nets.
According to the statement the call is launched in the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and the National Indicative Plan (NIP), signed between the EU and the government of Zimbabwe in 2015 marking the resumption of full development co-operation after years of frosty relations.
“Under the 11th EDF’s Agriculture-based Economic Development component of the NIP, ₧40 million is allocated to the commercial agriculture and downstream value chains through the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP).
“The ZAGP has the overall objective to contribute to the development of a diversified and efficient agriculture sector that promotes inclusive green economic growth,” said the EU.
“The strategic approach of ZAGP recognises that value chains are dynamic, market driven system to which support services and co-ordination are central. The ZAGP builds on two main elements for its operationalisation:
Strengthening service provision for developing sustainable agriculture value chains;
Supporting the development of sustainable, high potential value chains.”
The EU said service provision to the agriculture sector has eroded over time and is largely ineffective and inefficient in supporting value chain development, while rural development in the agricultural landscape that has significantly changed.
“It is, therefore, critical to re-think and re-define relevant, farmer centric and value chain oriented services and to develop a robust framework for their sustainable effective and efficient delivery. This call will focus on knowledge and Innovation services and its three pillars: research, education and extension,” the statement added.