The ZAS four strategic pillars on agriculture development

To understand the Society’s mandate, it is imperative to emphasise that ZAS’ mandate is not to provide a show but it is to facilitate agricultural development and the show is one of the many ways to do that so as to improve livelihoods in Zimbabwe.

The ZAS is a voluntary, member-based, member-driven and member-led agricultural organisation established in 1895. It seeks to be the centre of excellence in facilitating agricultural development in Zimbabwe, a slant recently emphasised through our 2015-2019 Strategy dubbed “Promote. Energise. Innovate”. The strategy is anchored on four pillars:

1. The visual

2. The narrative and

3. The word

4. The links

Let me briefly amplify each one these.

The “visual pillar” seeks to advance the cause of agriculture through the organisation and hosting of vibrant, dynamic, insightful exhibitions and expos that bring together a diverse array of stakeholders in the various value chains. The “narrative pillar” seeks to contribute to agricultural development through the medium of conferences, discussions and training, while the “word pillar” seeks to advance agriculture through the medium of information and various other publicity aspects. The development that the ZAS seeks must, ultimately, have a positive contribution to rural development while improving livelihoods, especially of youth and women. 

The ZAS transitioned from a show theme to an annual theme in 2015, to rally additional support for the cause of accelerated agricultural development. This transition has afforded ZAS and other like-mined stakeholders, an opportunity to periodically discuss various pertinent aspects of the value chain relevant to the theme under our now popular Leadership for Enhanced Agricultural Development Series (LEADS). The LEADS has become a platform that uses a value chain approach to bring key stakeholders to interrogate, highlight, discuss, distil, synthesise and communicate practical policy interventions for the advancement of agriculture.

For example, during 2016, some 11 LEADS discussions were held. Six of these were focused on agriculture and dealt with financing agriculture, revitalising the cotton sector, increasing potato production, enhancing the role of small grains in food security, focused on the role of the smallholder in conservation and climate smart agriculture and investigated the attainment of food security in a “climate change” environment.

Climate change has become an everyday phraseology. 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”. During 2016 the ZAS, of necessity, adopted the theme “Climate Resilience: The New Agricultural Frontier” signifying a shift in focus from “awareness” to “action”. We now know that public information about climate change does not necessarily positively correlate with pro-environmental behaviour, so illuminating and highlighting benefits of addressing climate change could likely inspire more climate change action. It must be action premised on integrating mitigation and adoption measures into our agricultural routines to make farming sustainable, productive and viable to ensure and assure food and nutrition security for Zimbabwe. This long, necessary and arduous journey continues.   Youth and women must be at the forefront of leading this journey.

Dr ANXIOUS Jongwe Masuka has a Bachelor of Science degree in Crop Science, from the University of Zimbabwe, obtained in 1988, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Science, from the Universities of Oslo/Zimbabwe, awarded in 1993. He has worked for the Zimbabwe Forestry Commission as a Researcher and the Tobacco Research Board as a Senior Researcher and for the last 11 years to 2012 was its Director.

Dr Masuka joined the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society in February 2015 after a two-year stint as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer at Ariston Holdings where he is now a non-Executive Director.  He sits on more than 5 Boards currently and, cumulatively has served on more than 20 Boards and professional associations, including being the 1) Vice President of Wildlife and Environment,  Zimbabwe, 2) President of Mycology Association in Africa and 3) Vice President  of the Intentional Mycolgical Association, a grouping of 25 000 world scientists. 

A scientist, Dr Masuka was one of the Founding Fellows of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences in 2004.  A prolific writer with over 100 science papers, Dr Masuka has also authored more than 10 books on forestry, agriculture, environment and strategic management. Dr Masuka, has won several management awards and in 2015 was selected by the Marketers Association as one of the 50 most influential Zimbabweans (non-politicians).

Currently, Dr Masuka is leading the transformation of the ZAS to make it more relevant to the agricultural development discourse and to position it for future growth.

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