More extension officers are being recruited to fill vacancies in Matabeleland North and South as part of Government efforts to boost extension service delivery and help in the implementation of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement is driving the recruitment and is seeking ken graduates from agricultural colleges who can speak Ndebele.
Government is also working on improving extension service delivery through ensuring increased mobility, appropriate training and equipping of the staff with digital technologies for effective technical backstopping and coaching of farmers in light of good agricultural practices.
Extension officers will be capacitated so that they are in a position to educate, track and monitor farmers. This helps to ensure climate change adaptation, boost productivity, food security; and promote agriculture as an engine of pro-poor and inclusive economic growth.
In an interview yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement chief director human resources, Mr George Chijarira, said they had been given the green light by Government to recruit more extension officers for the Matabeleland provinces, which had a number of vacant posts.
He said some of the areas in the two provinces had a single extension officer covering two to three wards while others wards were not attended to do due to staff shortages.
“This is part of Government’s effort to capacitate farmers through extension services. We realised we had a number of vacant posts in Matabeleland South and North as a result of the proximity to Botswana and South Africa.
“We are also recruiting people who can speak Ndebele so that they can efficiently advise farmers in those provinces. We have had situations where some extension workers would use English instead of using vernacular and this resulted in information gaps,” he said.
Mr Chijarira urged graduates from agricultural colleges to apply or register with the Public Service Commission.
“We hope the coming in of the extension officers on board will help in the implementation of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, which seeks to achieve over US$8 billion Gross Agriculture Production Value by 2023,” he said.
Mr Chijarira said each extension officer is supposed to supervise 350 households and every ward must have access to extension services.
In July, President Mnangagwa mobilised 5 000 motorcycles as part of Government’s efforts to capacitate and upgrade agricultural extension workers to enable them to carry out their work more effectively.