By Correspondent Munya Simango
In a development that will transform the sharing of agricultural knowledge and the delivery of innovation, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, and Rural Resettlement is set to launch ZimAgriHub, a farmer-focused national online library that will provide knowledge resources to stakeholders in Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector.
The development of the website is supported by the EU-funded Zimbabwe Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation services (ZAKIS).
Commenting on the initiative, ZAKIS head of project Waddilove Sansole said, “We are creating a digital repository of agricultural knowledge whose key objective is to share content that supports the sustainable growth of a market-oriented agriculture sector in Zimbabwe. The portal will bridge the existing knowledge transfer gap by allowing farmers and stakeholders to easily access the wealth of agricultural knowledge that is available in Zimbabwe and across the world.”
The interactive platform will link researchers, educators, and extension service providers. It is expected to support sustainable agricultural development by addressing the information, curricula, and research needs of the farmers, the academia as well as those of the private and public sector players. This way, users will access up-to-date agricultural knowledge resources. These include open data on research, education, extension, and weather as well as best practice teaching and learning content on agriculture.
ZimAgriHub will be managed by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Communications and Learning Unit (CLU) which will champion the gathering, development, and management of the hub’s content.
In a recent interview, research officer at the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Dorah Mwenye said, “ZimAgriHub is a vital platform for information and knowledge sharing that has come at the right time given the Covid 19 pandemic. The CLU is currently collecting and uploading diverse content to meet the target users’ knowledge needs.”
She said that research and academic institutions, individual authors, extension services, the education sector as well as public, private, and development sector organizations are among the website’s key target content contributors.
“We expect that the platform will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of collaborative work, taking into consideration the huge costs associated with running separate departmental websites. Also, the website will be a one-stop-shop for stakeholders and it will provide a sharing and discussing platform for the real-life issues that affect the farming community,” said Mwenye.
The knowledge hub will allow online access to academic articles, pamphlets, videos, podcasts, and fact sheets via smartphones, tablets, and computers.
ZAKIS communications and learning officer Kinwell Madhazi added, “The platform will be simple to use and it will provide an interactive and dynamic user experience that is in line with international best of breed information technology.”
The ZAKIS project which falls under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Program seeks to improve farmers’ livelihoods by enhancing the dissemination of agricultural knowledge and stimulating innovation through strengthening the working links among agricultural research, education, and extension services in Zimbabwe.