The role of extension support in a communal farmers’ market system in Mhondoro-Mubaira, Zimbabwe
The objective of this research was to establish the role of agricultural extension in communal farmers’ market systems by looking at possible ways in which it could intervene and support communal farmers in the marketing of produce. The study was conducted in the area of Mhondoro-Mubaira, which is situated in Mashonaland West Province in Zimbabwe. The target population comprised of 150 communal farmers and 25 extension officers. Poor technology and an under-resourced extension department is one of the factors identified by the extension officers (84%) for poor extension delivery (p =<0.464). The communal farmers referred to in this study have a negative perception of government-led extension support, especially in the area of agricultural market support. About half (56%) of the farmers indicated that they do not receive any form of agricultural marketing extension support. The reasons for the poor ratings of government extension support by communal farmers include the following: they are hardly available (8.88%); they are not knowledgeable enough (13.02%); and they do not offer practical solutions (24.85%). Communal food production and food security could be significantly improved if farmers receive appropriate input, training and extension support. Market linkage from the extension department could effectively boost income from agriculture enterprises and upgrade communal farmers who come from the most vulnerable section of the country’s population.
Keywords: Agricultural Extension Excellence Model (AEEM), Agritex, Communal farming, Extension, Market systems