Masvingo (New Ziana) -The Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) plans to establish a research centre in Chivi district, Masvingo province to study dry land agriculture with a view to improve small grain yields in the country.
GZU Soil and Plant Sciences department chairperson Dr Michael Mubvuma said the move was in line with Vision 2030 and the Education 5.0 model.
Vision 2030, enunciated by President Mnangagwa, seeks to make Zimbabwe an upper middle income economy, a standard set by the World Bank entailing higher standards of living, lifting the country from its current state after years of sanctions-induced de-industrialisation and negative growth.
The new Education 5.0 model is for higher and tertiary education institutions and promotes the production of goods and services through teaching, research, outreach, innovation and industrialisation.
It replaces the less effective 3.0 model which was made up of three core areas, namely teaching, research and outreach.
The 3.0 model was inherited from a colonial system and was structured to produce a pool of labourers to service the settler economy.
The GZU Chivi Research Centre is intended to complement efforts being made to solve the problem of low yields especially among small-scale farmers who lack technical knowledge on issues such as planting dates, type of seed suitable for an area and overgrazing.
“We need the research centre because we have low yields as a result of human stress coupled with drought and climate change,” said Dr Mubvuma.
The vision of the centre is to “achieve excellence in supporting a heritage based, highly productive and competitive arid agricultural region, improved agricultural production and efficient ways of livestock breeding.”
The centre would be involved in packaging and disseminating research-based information through workshops and seminars.
It would also supplement the university income through commercial production and value addition.
The journey to establish the centre started in 2015 with a series of meetings that included farmers and the traditional leadership of the area.
The university was allocated 135 hectares of land located in the dry land parts of Chivi communal lands.
Clearing of land for the centre has since started while preparations for the research studies have commenced with the recruitment of Masters and Doctoral students.