AGRITEX and Department of Veterinary Services extension officers from Insiza and Matobo districts received artificial insemination training in Bulawayo recently. The workshop was hosted by the Matopos Agricultural Centre of Excellence (Mace) in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat).
Mace is one of six Agricultural Centres of Excellence (ACEs) that were established by the Government under the European Union-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (Zakis) project.
The centres are focal points for the disseminating up-to-date agricultural knowledge, promotion of innovations and market linkages, as well as for harmonising the delivery of research, education and extension services to farmers.
Zakis head of the project Mr Waddilove Sansole said the artificial insemination training supports Government’s efforts to build the capacity of livestock value chains and improve the quality of the national herd.
“The training activities at the ACEs are informed by farmer needs. Since extensive livestock production is the main agricultural activity and backbone of livelihoods as well as food security in Zimbabwe’s semi-arid regions, artificial insemination training is one of the activities that has potential for high-impact on breed improvement which will contribute to achieving improved productivity and profitability in the livestock value chain.
“The ACEs will further support a cost benefit analysis to provide the empirical evidence of the advantages and full benefits of the technology. This will enable farmers to make informed decisions, as this is still quite a new technique of breed improvement for many livestock farmers,” he said.
Commenting on the initiative, Icrisat Zimbabwe country representative Dr Martin Moyo said the training was conducted to promote artificial insemination as a way to improve the cattle breeds in Zimbabwe’s livestock sector.
“One of the expected outcomes is to have community-based cattle inseminators who are well equipped in artificial insemination and related livestock production management skills, including cattle breed improvement and a better understanding of communal cattle breeds,” he aid.
The topics that were covered in the training include the theory and practice of artificial insemination, livestock management, and pregnancy diagnosis, improving communal cattle breeds, breeding systems, record keeping and herd health.
Dr Moyo said during the workshop, the participants drafted an insemination and farmer sensitisation programme for the current cattle breeding season. “The sensitisation programme is designed to ensure that farmers begin to appreciate the value of artificial insemination as a means to improve cattle breeds and productivity. The extension officers who participated in the training will also mobilise farmers and select the cattle that are to be inseminated. In line with this, our target is to conduct 500 on-farm inseminations in Matobo and Insiza districts this season.
“The farmers in the target districts have been very responsive to the programme as the livestock mobilisation exercise was successfully carried out. In addition, we have also procured the artificial insemination consumables in readiness for implementing the programme,” he said.
Zakis seeks to improve farmers’ livelihoods by enhancing the dissemination of agricultural knowledge and stimulating innovation through strengthening the working links among agricultural research, education, and extension services in Zimbabwe.
It is implemented by a consortium of local and international agricultural specialist NGOs, comprising of Welthungerhilfe, Sustainable Agriculture Technology, Icrisat, and Community Technology Development Organisation.