Reconfiguring agricultural extension in post land reform Zimbabwe: towards a new philosophy? (Part 1)

Taruvinga Magwiroto I had an interesting discussion with my professor some time ago about problems and issues in agricultural extension philosophy. I observed that the American version of rural extension is premised more on educational studies, concerned as it is on building up the skill base of rural folks. In Europe, the focus is more on innovation; therefore extension theory is based more on communication. … Continue reading Reconfiguring agricultural extension in post land reform Zimbabwe: towards a new philosophy? (Part 1)

Participation in farming-oriented WhatsApp groups: theory and practice (Part 1).

Taruvinga Magwiroto  If there is one concept that defines development best practice today, it is “participation” and “participatory”. I am more interested in the philosophical issues on participation, and less on “participatory” because I think once something is dubbed “participatory”, be sure that it is not! In fact the development sector (which is unfortunately prone to “herd mentality”) has elevated “participation” to the point of … Continue reading Participation in farming-oriented WhatsApp groups: theory and practice (Part 1).

Reforming vocational agricultural education in Zimbabwe (Part 2)

Taruvinga Magwiroto In Part 1 of this series, we discussed about some of the structural weaknesses in vocational agricultural curriculum design and implementation, and put forward a tentative suggestion for aligning the training with labour expectations and demands. Now, I will talk more about the envisaged institutional changes being mooted, that will see Agricultural Colleges move from being superintented by the Ministry of Agriculture to … Continue reading Reforming vocational agricultural education in Zimbabwe (Part 2)

Vocational agricultural education reform in Zimbabwe: the arguments (Part1)

Taruvinga Magwiroto Whilst there have been many discussions about how to improve Zimbabwe’s food security and the performance of its agriculture system in general, agricultural education has gone under the radar. But, as I will argue, agricultural education is a very critical part of the agricultural knowledge system. For most of my arguments, I will freely use evidence from Coombs and Ahmed (1974)’s excellent book: … Continue reading Vocational agricultural education reform in Zimbabwe: the arguments (Part1)

ICT4D: the quest for inclusive rural futures

Taruvinga Magwiroto The world is becoming “digital, digitalised and digitally-mediated at an astonishing pace” (Graham: 1), resulting in changing connectivities at the world’s margin. It is a self-evident fact that ICTs are causing creative disruption in many economic processes globally. While proponents of ICT for Development (ICT4D) would want us to believe that ICTs per se are positive for development, a more nuanced look shows … Continue reading ICT4D: the quest for inclusive rural futures

Interrogating our follies: short-term-ism in the Zimbabwean psyche

Taruvinga Magwiroto One of the ever-lasting pressures of political office has always been about limitations of time-scales of influence. You can only influence policy while you are in power, hence the obsession with “low-hanging” fruits and “quick wins”. Also the election cycle is short (+-5 years); hence there’s pressure to show some tangible results in the time that one is in power.    It’s no … Continue reading Interrogating our follies: short-term-ism in the Zimbabwean psyche

Tick-borne diseases: symptoms of deeper issues.

Taruvinga Magwiroto Recent reports of the on-going outbreak of the tick borne disease Theileriosis (also known as January Disease) in Zimbabwe has laid bare some of the problems and issues facing post land reform Zimbabwe. Theileriosis is more than a problem for livestock farmers. It is symptomatic of failures of social safety nets, institutional failures and the spectre of climate change. Because Zimbabwe is located … Continue reading Tick-borne diseases: symptoms of deeper issues.

Command Agriculture in Zimbabwe: can it be transformed?

Taruvinga Magwiroto “Command Agriculture” is a curious name to a government initiative meant to finance farmers and boost food productivity in the country. The first thing in the overhaul of the model is to change the name. But for the record, the “martial-sounding” name comes from the fact that when it was incepted, it was coordinated by the army. In fact the programme was jointly … Continue reading Command Agriculture in Zimbabwe: can it be transformed?

Neighbour’s Voices: re-considering the role of the neighbour in Africa

Taruvinga Magwiroto In Africa, being regional neighbours is a little bit like family. The mere fact of geographical proximity makes the history similar, the struggles analogous and the future somehow conjoined. It also makes your fortunes somewhat intertwined, such that “neighbourhood” has much more meaning than we think. The other day on Twitter, an influential South African journalist surmised how hard it must be for … Continue reading Neighbour’s Voices: re-considering the role of the neighbour in Africa