Michael Tome Business Reporter
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Ministry says it highly upholds technological innovations that seek to develop agriculture productivity.
This follows advances made by Cassava Smartech’s EcoFarmer to digitally enhance farming tips through mobile platform, which is a one-stop solution platform that gives farming tips, location-specific weather updates, weekly agriculture commodity market prices and financial services.
Last Friday, Cassava Smartech, which will soon be separately listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, hosted a first-of-its-kind EcoFarmer Expo at Murehwa Centre, 90km northeast of Harare.
Over 3 500 farmers, Government officials, farming inputs suppliers and agriculture extension officers attended the expo, themed “Taking Farming to the Next Level”.
Non-governmental organisations officers and senior Econet and Cassava Smartech executives were also in attendance.
Addressing guests on behalf of Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri, Mashonaland East Provincial Crop and Livestock Production Officer Mr Leonard Munamati, said Information Communication Technology (ICT) was a vital cog in improving agriculture.
He commended Cassava Smartech for taking the lead in the use of technology to support the farming community and to boost agriculture output.
“My ministry recognises the potential of ICTs and innovation as powerful tools to transform agriculture in Zimbabwe,” said Minister Shiri.
He said his ministry fully supported the transformation of agriculture “from being low-productivity, subsistence farming into a modernized, technology-driven agriculture that guarantees increased productivity, national food security and profitability for farmers”.
Speaking at the same event, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni said Econet and the Cassava business were grateful to God for the company’s ability to innovate and invent solutions that solve people’s problems, as demonstrated by EcoFarmer.
“EcoFarmer connects you to a rich array of farming resources and information, and also provides access to experts in the field of agriculture,” Mr Mboweni said.
He thanked the thousands of farmers that attended the event, some of whom exhibited crops and livestock at the Expo, commending them for their speed of adoption of new technologies to improve their yields and their lives.
He also expressed gratitude to the government and to policy makers for supporting Cassava’s initiatives to harness technology to boost agricultural output and help transform small holder farmers’ lives.
The Deputy Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Minister, Hon Dr J Muswere, speaking at the same event, commended the Econet group for taking the lead in utilising ICTs to impact the economy in the area of farming and agriculture, reiterating that his ministry supported the use of information communication technologies to economically empower and transform lives.
The EcoFarmer service, which already boasts on over 1 million registered farmers across the country, offers farmers a unique value bundle of services that can be easily accessed via the mobile phone. The services include access to a trading platform, weather forecasts, and a transactional, ZimSwitch-supported bank card, linked to a farmer’s EcoCash wallet.
Farmers on the EcoFarmer Club also enjoy discounted prices at approved, partner input suppliers across the country.
Econet recently announced plans to spin off and separately list Cassava Smartech in a move that market-watchers believe to be a strategic unbundling of the division that is set to unlock shareholder value and increase management focus on the growing brands in the Cassava stable, which include EcoCash, EcoSure, EcoFarmer and Steward Bank, among others.
Source : The Herald