Farmers urged to embrace technology

Small-scale farmers have been urged to embrace technology to boost agricultural production and add value to their produce in order to increase their incomes. Raymond Nazare, an agricultural expert and engineer at the University of Zimbabwe’s Development Technology Centre, said the majority of farmers were not aware of the technology available in Zimbabwe for their benefit.

“Farmers should be fully utilising the machinery that we are manufacturing locally to add value to their produce,” said Nazare. “The major challenge that we have is the farmers invest a lot of labour and money in agriculture but at the end of it, they get few returns because they fail to add value.”

Failure to get the maximum benefits from previous farming seasons means farmers are able to fund the next season, which prevents them from using proper business models. Nazare cited three examples of machinery made at the UZ’s Development Technology Centre department that farmers could use – the motorised multi crop thresher, silage cutter and solar dryer. Estimated to cost $2,700, the multi crop thresher is a diesel-powered thresher and sheller, although it can be animal drawn. It can be used to thresh and shell maize, sorghum, wheat, soya beans and sunflowers. The machine has the capacity to thresh 2 to 3 tonnes of maize an hour and between 1 to 2 tonnes for the other crops.

“Communities can form clusters and contribute towards the purchase of the machinery, which can then be used by the whole community,” said Nazare.

Made of steel, plastic and wood, the 2,4-metre solar dryer costs $350 and it is useful for drying fruit and vegetables. It includes a 12 DC extractor fan powered by a photovoltaic panel.

Considering that dried fruit and vegetables had a higher market value than fresh produce, it was important for small-scale farmers to invest in such technology, he said.

Economic experts suggest that the country’s economic recovery depends on value-addition to many high quality primary products.

Post published in: Agriculture

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