Zimbabwe enjoys rich sources of gold, platinum and diamonds. However, the country has suffered from hyperinflation of enormous proportions during the period 2003 to 2009. According to the government’s Central Statistical Office, the inflation rose from an annual rate of 32 percent in 1998 to about 11,200,000 percent in August 2008. In 2009, the government had to introduce a new Z$ hundred trillion banknote. Tourism also declined, and according to official estimates, about 60 percent of the country’s wild life has died since 2000, due to poaching and deforestation. Factors such as mismanagement and the expulsion of more than 4,000 white commercial farmers from their lands, were responsible for Zimbabwe’s economic disaster. With the formation of the Unity Government in 2009, however, considerable economic recovery has been noticed in the country as the yearly GDP has been growing steadily.
The agricultural sector of Zimbabwe comprises food crops, cash crops and livestock, and it is important for the economy. It contributes about 15 percent of the GDP, about 45 percent of the country’s exports, 60 percent of all of raw materials used by the local industry, in addition to employing about 70 percent of the population. Problems like droughts, widespread HIV/AIDS epidemic in rural areas and the land re-distribution by the government have damaged the agriculture sector. The land has been divided into three categories, namely communal, freehold and state land. The confiscation of thousands of commercial farms from white farmers and their distribution among native subsistence farmers has seriously undermined commercial agriculture. Agricultural practitioners have been divided into different categories, such as communal, old re-settled, small-scale commercial, large-scale commercial and peri-urban. Maximum farm size has been designated for various agro-ecological zones starting from 250 ha to a maximum of 2000 ha.
Key Statistics and Indicators
Agricultural land (sq km)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares)
Arable land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares per person)
Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)
Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)
Food exports (% of merchandise exports)
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Rural population (% of total population)
Agricultural population (% of total population)*
Total economically active population
Total economically active population in agriculture*
Total economically active population in agriculture (in %
of total economically active population)
Female economically active population in agriculture (% of
total economically active population in agriculture)*
Sources: The World Bank; *FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
Food crops grown in Zimbabwe include maize, potatoes, barley, beans, groundnuts, sweet potatoes and wheat. Cash crops include tobacco, sugar cane, cotton, cut-flowers, sunflower, coffee and tea. The livestock reared are cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and donkeys. Women are actively involved in farming and livestock operations.
History of extension and the enabling/disabling environment
The first step towards having a formal extension service in Zimbabwe was taken in 1907 when the country was a British colony. It occurred because the black Africans, called “natives” living in “reserves” (areas designated for the black Africans), felt pressure and congestion due to increasing number of residents and started demanding the expansion of the reserves with arable land. Colonial administrators, reluctant to agree, took the position that instead of expansion the natives should be taught proper cultivation techniques to produce more from their existing reserves’ land. In 1910, a formal recommendation was made by a Committee of Inquiry into African Affairs that the government establish central institutions in reserves where expert instructors should teach proper tillage methods as well as the treatment and rotation of crops.
This recommendation was not implemented. In 1921, a similar recommendation was made in view of the fast exhausting soil and destruction of timber in the reserves. The need for an instructor, who could go around reserves and demonstrate to farmers, was underlined, as was the establishment of industrial training schools. The recommendation was adopted and two training schools were opened in the early 1920s. Trainees were encouraged to go out in the field and instruct pupils on their own plots. In 1924, twenty-one (21) men were enrolled in the demonstrator training program. In 1926, an American agriculturist named Emory D. Alvord who was also a missionary was appointed by the Department of Agriculture for the instruction of natives. Alvord selected six (6) acres of overworked school land and formed demonstration and experimental plots. He set up a system of agricultural work for adult natives that proved to be very successful and was used as curriculum for demonstrator trainees at the two schools. The first batch of demonstrators graduated in 1927 and the graduates were sent to serve in their respective reserves.
While Zimbabwe was still a British colony, the Department of Conservation and Extension (Conex) and the Department of Agricultural Development (Devag) were established. After gaining independence in 1980, the Government of Zimbabwe merged the two departments to create the Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX). The new department maintained national level staff, provincial agricultural extension officers, regional extension officers, and agricultural extension officers. Below them were supervisors and extension workers who worked as frontline field staff.
AGRITEX provided extension advice to small farmers as a matter of routine and to commercial farmers when requested. A variety of extension approaches were followed including the master farmer training approach, group development areas, radio listening groups, commodity interest groups, demonstrations, field days, study tours and farm visits. The Training & Visit (T&V) system was tried for 10 years but was found inappropriate. For a while, farming systems research approach was also followed but it was not sustained. AGRITEX not only advised farmers, but offered free services to various government agencies, NGOs and private companies that were involved in rural development projects.
In 2002, AGRITEX and the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS) were merged to form the Department of Agricultural Research and Rural Extension (AREX). In 2007, the research arm of AREX was separated to form the Department of Agricultural Research for Development (DAR4D). In 2009, the extension arm was separated from AREX to once again form AGRITEX. Similarly, the DAR4D was renamed as before, that is, Department of Agricultural Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS).
The World Bank, African Development Bank, FAO, UNDP and the World Food Program have provided financial and technical assistance to Zimbabwe. Apparently, international politics has affected the donor assistance. IFAD and the World Bank stopped their operations in Zimbabwe due to non-payment of arrears.
Major institutions providing extension/advisory services
Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development
This Ministry has several technical departments each of which provides advisory services in its specialized field. There is not much coordination of extension programming among these departments.
Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services
The Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX), one of the departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation, is responsible for providing public agricultural extension services in sub-sector crops. These services are provided through eight provincial offices, supported by 57 district offices and the frontline staff based in the wards. Extension staff also serves Bulawayo and Harare metropolitan areas. The extension to farmer ratio is about 1:3,000.
Table 1: Human resources in public extension services in Zimbabwe as of 2009
Number of Male Technical Staff
Number of Female Technical Staff
Total Number of Technical staff
Number of Support Staff
Crops & Livestock
Total All Sectors
Source: Survey of Extension conducted in 2009 under the Investment Assessment Project. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services
The Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services is responsible for providing public extension advice, materials and veterinary services to the farmers.
University of Zimbabwe
The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Zimbabwe performs training, research and extension type outreach activities in the fields of agriculture and natural resources. The university serves not only Zimbabwe, but all member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Kushinga Phikelela National Farmer Training Center, Marondera
This training center’s mission is to coordinate, provide policy advice, rationalize, facilitate, monitor and evaluate, develop and disseminate information on farmer training programs with specific emphasis on the development of the smallholder sector. This center offers a three-year program for young commercial farmers, and an 18-month certificate in agriculture.
Several private companies are engaged in farm inputs sale, and the purchase, processing and marketing of agricultural produces, which undertake certain extension activities mainly for promoting their products and services, and to ensure good quality of the produce they purchase from the farmers. There is, however, no established private company that offers fee-based advisory services. A few examples of such companies are as follows:
Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company, Private Ltd.
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO)
Eastern Highlands Plantations Ltd.
Hippo Valley Estates
Triangle Sugar Corporation Ltd.
Chimwala Farm, Private Ltd.
Lake Harvest Aquaculture, Private Ltd.
An Internet site shows a 52-page list of international and national NGOs in Zimbabwe. They all are involved in a variety of activities, and those which are engaged in rural and agricultural development emphasize grassroots participation of rural people in development work. Extension is certainly implicit in their activities. A few examples of NGOs based in Zimbabwe are given below.
Advisory Service for Development Zimbabwe, Harare (national NGO; provides advisory service to groups involved in development activities in Zimbabwe)
Africa 2000 Network, Harare (international NGO; mobilizes and supports African NGOs to address the problems of environmental degradation)
Africa Book Development Trust, Harare (national NGO; facilitates access to books for deprived rural areas and commercial farm communities)
Africa Cooperative Action Trust, Harare (national NGO; participates in the development of rural areas)
Africa Groups of Sweden, Harare (international NGO; gives aid to NGOs)
Africare-Zimbabwe, Harare (international NGO; works for improving quality of rural life)
Enterprise Works Zimbabwe Trust, Harare (national NGO; develops and disseminates appropriate technologies to small producers)
Fambidzanai, Harare (national NGO; trains people in sustainable agriculture and organic farming)
Family AIDS Caring Trust, Mutare (national NGO; reduces prevalence of HIV/AIDS and mitigate the impact of HIV infection)
Nayanga Development Projects, Nyanga (national NGO; provides assistance in fish farming and vegetable growing for local communities)
Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies
Zimbabwe has quite a number of active farmers’ unions, commodity associations, cooperatives, and associations. They are involved in various activities to safeguard and represent member farmers’ interests. A few examples are given below.
Horticultural Promotion Council (HPC)
Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU)
Coffee Growers Association (CGA)
Tobacco Growers Trust (TGT)
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU)
Cattle Producers Association (CPA)
Crops Association (CA)
Zimbabwe Indigenous Agro-Dealers Association (ZIADA)
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA)
National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF)
Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union (ICFU)
Commercial Cotton Producers Association (CCPA)
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Zimbabwe. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.
Training options for extension professionals
Pre-service education may be obtained at the University of Zimbabwe or any of several agricultural colleges located in all provinces of the country. In-service training may also be pursued at these institutions. A list of all 12 agricultural colleges and one veterinary college located in Zimbabwe is as follows:
Gwebi Agricultural College, Harare (Mashonaland West Province)
Kushinga Agricultural College, Marondera (Mashonaland East Province)
Chibero Agricultural College, Norton (Mashonaland West Province)
Rio Tinto Agricultural College, Kadoma (Midlands Province)
Mlezu Agricultural College, Kwekwe (Midlands Province)
Esigodini Agricultural College, Esigodini (Matabeleland Province)
Mazowe Veterinary College, Mazowe (Mashonaland Central Province)
Magamba Agricultural College, Mutare (Manicaland Province)
Chaminuka Agricultural College, Mt. Darwin (Mashonaland Central Province)
Kaguvi Agricultural College (Midlands Province)
Mushagashe Agricultural College, Masvingo (Masvingo Province)
Mashayamombe Agricultural College (Mashonaland West Province)
Rupangwana Agricultural College (Masvingo Province)
Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) foragriculture and extension
The Government of Zimbabwe adopted a national ICT policy in 2005. The policy’s vision is to transform the country into a knowledge-based society by 2020, and its mission is to accelerate the development and application of ICTs in support of economic growth and development. Although a World Bank report of 2007 ranked Zimbabwe in the bottom ten countries due to slow rate of the Internet service yet several initiatives have been taken in the country for ICT application to education and rural and agricultural development. According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Zimbabwe was 72.13. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 15.7.
Some of the ICT initiatives benefiting agricultural extension, rural population and educational institutions are summarized as follows.
ZARNet (Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network)
ZARNet was initiated by the Research Council of Zimbabwe in 1997 with funding from UNDP. Beneficiaries include academic and research institutions, NGOs and disadvantaged communities that cannot afford high costs of Internet and email connectivity charged by commercial firms.
e-Hurudza is an agricultural planning software package in support of farm mechanization program. The program provides access to information on crop cultivation and farm equipment inventory management services for all regions. The project collaborates with AGRITEX, which is responsible for the distribution of software and training to users.
Interactive i3Dloson objects
This initiative comes from the partnership between a South African company NALEDi3D and the World Links, Zimbabwe. It helps small farmers in gaining literacy and specific knowledge required for the development of agricultural skills. The interactive 3D learning objects incorporate African concepts and indigenous knowledge.
The pilot Gutu World Link Telecenters Project, financed by the World Bank, was launched in 1999 through collaboration between the government, NGOs, communities and other stakeholders. The National University of Science and Technology is also engaged in telecenter operation in two rural districts namely Bulilima and Mangwe. Presently, there are 11 telecenters, located in both urban and rural areas, providing access to useful information.
Agricultural Information Podcasts
A podcasting project has been started in Mbire district under which podcasts on a variety of topics on crop and livestock production and management in local languages that have been prepared through participation of stakeholders. The project has proved that the lives of small farmers can be improved in spite of their lack of electricity and poor communication.
Resources and references
Chipindu, B. (2011). Review of the Current Status of the Agriculture Sector in Zimbabwe. PowerPoint presentation at the Inter-Agency Consultation Meting on User Interface Platform (UIP), Agriculture, Food Security and Water Sectors of the Global Framework for Climate Services, FAO, Rome; 26-28 September 2011
Chisita, C.T. (2010). An investigation into the use of ICT in the provision of agricultural information to small scale farmers in Harare. Paper presented at the World Library and information Congress: 76th IFLA General Conference and Assembly; 10-15 August 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden
Connolly, M. and J. Hagmann (2000). “Communal and institutional transformation in public agricultural services in Zimbabwe – Lessons from the 1990s”, in Services for Rural Development: Newsletter of an emerging platform on services within Division ‘Rural Development’ in GTZ , Issue No. 5, December 2000, Pp. 18-23. GTZ, Eschborn, Germany
Current Status of Commercial Agriculture in Zimbabwe (February 2003). Available at:
Foti, R., I. Nyakudya, M. Moyo, J. Chikuvire and N. Mlambo (2007). Determinants of farmer demand for “fee-for-service” extension in Zimbabwe: The case of Mashonaland Central Province. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education, Volume 14, Number 1, Spring 2007; Pp. 95-104
Hanyani-Mlambo, B.T. (2000). Re-framing Zimbabwe’s public agricultural extension services: Institutional analysis and stakeholders views. Agrekon, Vol 39, No 4 (December 2000), Pp. 665-672
Hanyani-Mlambo, B.T. (2000).Strengthening the Pluralistic Agricultural Extension System: A Zimbabwean Study. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Isaacs, S. (April 2007). ICT in Education in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Country Report; in Survey of ICT and Education in Africa
Jere, P. (October 2005). Inventory and SWOT Analysis of Farmer Organizations in the SADC Region. FANRPAN (Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network)
Kramer, E. (1997). The early years: Extension services in peasant agriculture in colonial Zimbabwe, 1925-1929. Zambezia (1997), XXIV (ii), Pp. 159-179
Kundishora, S.M. (no date; probably 2007). The Role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Enhancing Local Economic Development and Poverty Reduction. Harare: Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network
Maiyaki, A. A. (2010). Zimbabwe’s agricultural industry. African Journal of Business Management . Vol. 4 (19), Pp. 4159-4166
Mudyazvivi, E. (2010). Agricultural demonstrations work: The case of raising smallholder banana production in Zimbabwe. SNV Netherlands Development Organization
Mugwisi, T., D.N. Ocholla and J. Mostert (2012). The information needs of agricultural researchers and extension workers in Zimbabwe: An overview of the findings. South Africa: Department of Information Studies, University of Zululand
Mutiro, V. (October 2010). Consultancy Report: Zimbabwe. Investment Assessment Project. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Muziri, T. (2009). Farm management challenges for a country in transition: The case of Zimbabwe. Journal of International Farm Management Vol. 4, No. 4 – February 2009; Pp. 1-14
Owens, T., J. Hoddinott and B. Kinsey (January 2001). The Impact of Agricultural Extension on Farm Production in Resettlement Areas of Zimbabwe. University of Oxford: Center for the Study of African Economics, Department of Economics
SADC and European Union (July 2008). Situation Analysis of Agricultural Research and Training in the SADC Region (Zimbabwe). FANR Directorate and SADC Secretariat
USAID (January 2012). Update on commercial agriculture – January 2012. Zim – AIED (Zimbabwe Agricultural Income & Employment Development Program Issue #1 January 2012
Zimbabwe NGO Directory. Investigative Africa (no date)
FAO (2002): Strengthening the pluralistic agricultural extension system: a Zimbabwean case study. This comprehensive report includes an overview and analysis of all public and private extension service providers, a targeted strategy to enhance co-ordination and collaboration between both public and private extension providers.
The Annex lists 24 extension service providers active before 2002.
ASTI Agricultural Research and Development investments and capacity in Zimbabwe
Pre- and In-Service Training
Agricultural Education is one of eight departments within the Ministry. There are six colleges and one farmer training center in the department.
Chibero Agricultural Education
Esigodini Agricultural College
Gwebi Agricultural College
Kushinga Phikelela National Farmer Training Centre
Mazowe Veterinary College
Mlezu Agricultural College
Rio Tinto Agricultural College
Each college is headed by a Principal who is assisted by a Vice Principal. In each college there are degreed and non degreed lecturers, administration and support staff.
Objectives of the Agricultural Education Department
The major objective of the department is to create agricultural education system which meets the diverse needs of the sector as producers, educators, administrators, economists, researchers, and agro-business people. The education system must cater for specialised aspects of agriculture, through a higher national diploma at colleges.
Key Functions of the Department
Providing advisory services on policy matters related to training in agriculture
Developing, drafting and reviewing the curricula for agricultural colleges and training institutions
Maintaining educational standards through setting, facilitating and administering examinations
Providing carrier advices to agricultural students and members of the public
Providing farmer training
More specifically the agricultural education system will:
produce graduates who are productive in all aspects of agriculture and capable of farming in their own right
improve human resources in the agricultural sector
train graduates who will meet employers’ needs
produce graduates with both theoretical and practical knowledge capable of generating employment opportunities in the agricultural sector
produce graduates capable of administering agricultural programmes
produce graduates with specialised skills where necessary
produce graduates who are versatile, analytical and capable of meeting the varied requirements of the agricultural sector
provide practical training for smallholder farmers
provide both formal and informal training programmes
Source: MOA Zimbabwe, retrieved 5/18/2011