Global digital initiative to benefit Zimbabwe

By Senior Writer

Zimbabwe is set to benefit from a global digital initiative that aims at promoting digital innovations, support inclusive gender-sensitive rural development and sustainable agrifood systems transformation in Africa.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation project, known as the “1,000 Digital Village Initiative” (DVI) was launched in 2021 and will  see at least 1,000 villages being converted into “digital village hubs” in which a variety of ICT-enabled services (farm and non-farm) will be offered.

In recent weeks, FAO has been conducting research in rural Zimbabwe to pave way for piloting, joining other African countries, Malawi, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Niger and Liberia.

In an exclusive interview with Review & Mail, FAO southern Africa subregional coordinator, Patrice Talla explained: “A digital village is a concept to promote digital innovations to rural communities enabling economic livelihoods, individual wellbeing, and social cohesion. 

“FAO DVI follows a country-led, user-centered, holistic digital ecosystem approach for digital village development, allowing the local context to dictate the modalities pursued.”

He revealed that the Ministry of Lands Agriculture Fisheries Water and Rural Development, with the support from FAO successfully carried out a scoping mission in Masvingo and Mashonaland West.

“The results of the scoping assessment will lead to the final selection of villages where initial DVI activities will be implemented at the pilot phase,” he said.

“A village from each of the two Provinces will be selected for the pilot phase. The project is currently piloting in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Lands Agriculture Fisheries Water and Rural Development, with the support from FAO are carrying out scoping missions in Masvingo and Mashonaland West.  

“The results of the scoping assessment will lead to the final selection of villages (Provinces) where the initial DVI activities will be implemented at the pilot phase.”

Already, FAO’s technical teams have found some encouraging insights.

Talla said: “Across the eight villages which were assessed,  it is clear that digital transformation opens an important opportunity for accelerating women and youth business opportunities across agrifood systems, to take concrete steps to ending hunger and poverty.

“Young people are best placed to acquire the knowledge needed to uptake new technologies, make agricultural value chains more tech-savvy, and spearhead digital transformation in rural areas.”

An expert, Innocent Chamisa, who is also Land Specialist at  FAO, last month noted that digital technologies have the capacity to radically transform the disadvantages that rural areas face in terms of distance and low population density by permitting virtual communication, improving access to services, farm management and decision-making, increasing overall efficiency and agricultural productivity.

Other regions of the world, namely Europe, Americas and the Carribean have already benefited, while in Africa the programme is aimed at supporting the continental Agenda 2063 development vision and the attainment of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

FAO says the continent needs to concentrate strategic efforts on transforming its agri-food production and commercialisation systems, improving life in rural areas by addressing farm and off-farm bottlenecks

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