Chinese demonstration centre partners Gwebi College

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THE China-Aid Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre will this cropping season partner with Gwebi Agricultural College to increase production of its commercial farming ventures.
The demonstration centre which was constructed following China’s 2006 pledge at the Sino-Africa Summit in Beijing to establish agricultural demonstration centres in Africa ventured into commercial farming last season.
The centre is located at Gwebi Agricultural College.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development ministry’s director of farmer training Moffat Nyamangara said following a successful season last year the centre decided to utilise more land for crop production.
“The centre will be working with the college this season to utilise the land which the college has not been using to produce crops as it seeks to increase its production levels,” he said.
“Gwebi College has been failing to use its land as it has inadequate resources to finance crop production and with the centre having access to modern technologies, equipment and funds the partnership will benefit both parties.
“Last year the centre produced soya-beans, maize, wheat and potatoes and these will be produced again this season.
“The centre has state-of-the-art equipment and inputs have already been sourced ahead of the coming summer cropping season.”
This season, Nyamangara said, the centre is mainly focusing on maize and soya-bean as it seeks to contribute significantly to food security.
He said the demonstration centre owing to its advanced technology and machinery had managed to produce high yields hence the need to use more land.
He said one of the thrusts of the centre was to improve yield through high-yielding production technology.
“Last season the centre put more than 50 hectares (ha) under soya-beans, maize, wheat and potatoes and produced eight tonnes per ha for maize, five tonnes per ha for wheat, three tonnes per ha for soya-beans and 40 tonnes per ha for potatoes,” he said.
The country’s maize average yield per ha stands at about one-and-half tonnes compared to the internationally accepted average of at least seven tonnes per hectare.
Nyamangara said under the partnership the college will benefit from the transfer of knowledge from experts to students.
“Their production levels per ha are impressive and under the partnership students at Gwebi College will get the opportunity to learn how these levels can be achieved,” he said.
“The students will also have access to the centre’s training facilities, modern laboratories and the college will benefit from the proceeds of the sale of the crops produced.
“The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy states that the locals have 51 percent stake in any adventure that is the principle guiding the partnership of the college and centre.”
Meanwhile, the demonstration centre will soon be opening up its doors to farmers to advance their knowledge on the use of modern and advanced farming technologies and equipment.
Nyamangara said the training programmes were part of the centre’s mandate to ensure knowledge transfer between Chinese experts and locals.
“The centre is not only for training students in agricultural colleges and its staff but we want to ensure that it benefits the farmers that are already on the land producing for the country,” he said.
“The centre will be opening up to farmers who want to conduct field visits and partake in the training programme on crop production, harvesting using modern farming equipment.”
The training of farmers, Nyamangara said, will help maximise production.
“Armed with the necessary information on how to use advanced technologies farmers will be able to improve production,” he said.
“There is equipment used at the centre such as potato diggers which are not common among local farmers and we believe once trained on how to use them and their importance, farmers will invest in such vital tools.”
This year the demonstration centre has trained local engineers on the use of advanced farm implements and machinery.
The teaching staff at Gwebi College and others drawn from the various agricultural colleges underwent a training programme on the maintenance and use of farm machinery.
The purpose of the centre is to help the country improve agricultural production and enhance its food security through use of advanced agricultural technology and modern agricultural machinery in the production of high yielding and superior quality food crops.
The demonstration centre targets training middle and small-scale farmers, farm managers, agricultural specialists and agro- students, among others.
The centre is envisaged to become the country’s hub of high-tech agricultural experimental study and demonstration, technical training and sustainable development.

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