Innovation, technology critical for agric development

Innovation, technology critical for agric development
Published: 24 August 2017
The need for investment in Zimbabwe's agricultural sector by local and international corporations has become a necessity for a steady growth of our economy.

Zimbabwe's premier showcase, the Harare Agricultural Show, is on with various stakeholders battling to lure possible business partnerships.

The annual Harare Agricultural Show is the premier event organised by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society for the promotion of agricultural development in Zimbabwe.

According to the Society, the show attracts more than 500 exhibitors and over 180 000 people annually while presenting a unique business opportunity for national and regional organisations and is the highlight of many Harare residents' annual entertainment calendar.

The show's organisers also note that climate change has become an everyday phrase.

"But it was especially in vogue leading to and following the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015.

"The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) added its voice, complementing efforts by various stakeholders, when it adopted for the year 2015 the annual theme, 'Enhancing Agricultural Productivity: Managing Climate Change'."

In the 2016 season, ZAS stated that it adopted the theme "Climate Resilience: The New Agricultural Frontier", signifying a shift in focus from "awareness" to "action".

"There is a gap between knowing and doing. We now know that public information about climate change does not necessarily positively correlate with pro-environmental behaviour, so illuminating and highlighting the benefits of addressing climate change could likely inspire more climate change action," ZAS says on its website.

It is, however, difficult to identify companies that have put their displays with the issue of climate change inspiring their designs and decisions.

Investments, especially that which comes from organisations and companies that recognise the challenges being faced across the world, are critical at this juncture.

In Zimbabwe, we are busy celebrating the bumper harvest from the 2016/17 season while countries like South Africa are preparing for a possible drought in the coming summer season.

The need for preparing for a different season is critical and, according to agricultural experts, the time to prepare is now.

It is also critical that agricultural companies assist farmers with the necessary knowledge and equipment to improve their agricultural activities.

Pedstock Investments general manager Mr Dror Jackson believes the way forward for Zimbabwe is to invest in more technology and embracing innovation for the growth of agriculture while considering such weather phenomena as climate change.

Pedstock Investments is an agricultural company that focuses primarily on irrigation (Drip and Overhead- centre pivots and hosereels, as well as pumping units).

They also have a great nursery for all vegetable seedlings as well as fruit trees with most of these coming from Israel including their the Hazera onion.

Pedstock Investments also helps in the construction of tunnel greenhouses.

Pedstock Investments is built on the passion of managing director Mr Jackson's desire for modern technology in Zimbabwe's agricultural production.

Mr Jackson also shares a passion to see common farmers, both subsistence and commercial, realize more from their farming operations than they currently are doing.

Adopting Israeli agricultural concepts would be advantageous considering the Middle Eastern nation has limited land and water resources while Zimbabwe has great potential which Mr Jackson hopes to help tap into.

Pedstock Investments represents some of Israel's leading companies in the field of irrigation, water purification, agro-chemicals, fertilisers, livestock equipment and other equipment and machinery.

But how can Zimbabwe make the most of the Israeli agricultural know-how?

With most areas drifting towards Natural Regions IV and V, Zimbabwe has a lot to benefit from these practices.

Abigail Klein Leichman, writing on the 12 top ways Israel feeds the world, notes that food security is a major concern for the planet where resources are dwindling while population rises, hence smart solutions for better agriculture and safer food storage are essential.

She further states that no single country — certainly not one as young and as tiny as Israel — has contributed more breakthroughs to humanity.

"Since the 1950s, Israelis have not only been finding miraculous ways to green their own desert…"

Some of these ways include drip irrigation, grain cocoons which provide simple and cheap ways for African farmers to keep their grain market-fresh, biological pest control, dairy farming and other tailor-made farm solutions.

Other innovations include research where strains of seed varieties that thrive in hot and dry climates can be grown. Israel has also managed to "squeeze every drop of water from the air" while working on how to protect its crops.

Food has also been grown from greenhouse gas in Israel using plants which thrive on carbon dioxide and sunlight.

Hardier seeds for better crops have also been introduced.

It is thus critical that companies and organisations that provide the necessary technology partner Government, farmers and all stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

Engagement at all levels should be improved so that not only companies like Pedstock Investments contribute to the growth of the sector.

The challenge is for such companies to increase their visibility beyond Harare and Bulawayo by setting up bases in the various regions where agriculture is an important economic activity.
- the herald
Tags: Innovation,


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