Internet brings smiles to farmers

Farmers in Manicaland have improved their agri-business production as a result of access to the internet via an Internet Café established in August by the Farmers Development Association of Zimbabwe (FADAZ).

Madeline Makombe bought spares for her boom sprayer from India through inernet.
Madeline Makombe bought spares for her boom sprayer from India through inernet.

The centre has 30 computers sets, a scanner and two printers. Farmers pay $10 joining fee and then monthly subscriptions for internet access by dividing the total amount among themselves.

The chairman of FADAZ, James Chidziya, said the internet café linked farmers unions and their affiliates at district level while at the same time providing access to information to individual farmers.

“We initially wanted to build the capacity of our members in this new technology so that they can be writing e-mails to various unions and inquiring about various farming information services. They have benefited greatly. For instance, farmers were able to compare the prices of tobacco, maize, fruit and any other products on the Internet and through this network they were able to negotiate for a better price,” said Chidziya.

Cain Nyamhunga, coordinator of the Café, said the main reason for the initiative was for farmers to make money and access information cheaply. He said most farmers had acknowledged that technology had improved and added value to their products.

“As farmers we are looking for information on people to network with, to get good prices on our products, viable capital for our projects and to find equipment and spare parts,” he added.

“Without information, we cannot go anywhere. Farmers need technology so that they can improve their production, purchasing and marketing decisions. They need to be connected with the rest of the world.

“We engaged computer experts who trained three groups and the farmers were receptive to the technology and were quick to understand and use the Internet,” he said. “I am also impressed that women farmers have been coming in full force to use the internet.”

One of the café users, Evelyn Chikodzore, said: “As a woman farmer I am now able to know who is selling and who the potential buyer is. I am now able to know were the buyers are and at what price on the market. This worked out well. We were tired of briefcase buyers who were setting their own market price yet the price of maize elsewhere was better than what the dealer was asking for.”

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