Former Student Champions Grassroots AE Learning in Mhondoro-Ngezi

Former diploma in agroecology student, Nyasha Gonde, is fostering agroecology learning and cultural preservation in Mhondoro-Ngezi through grassroots community agriculture shows.

Nyasha Gonde (kneeling) handing over some of the Mhondoro-Ngezi smallholder farmers’ agric produce to FPC Director Mr. K.L Mashingaidze during the show.

Nyasha has been a practising government agriculture extension officer for some years, before embarking on a new academic journey in agroecology education which she began in 2021. After completing her studies in 2023, Gonde has been taking a pivotal role in influencing grassroots agroecology learning and application in her home area, Mhondoro-Ngezi. To Gonde, grassroots local community agricultural shows are important because they create a relaxed and interactive platform for the vital exchange of knowledge and trade of techniques by the farmers. According to her, community-led agricultural shows create an ample space and time for farmer-to-farmer interaction, cross-pollination of local wisdom, where seasoned cultivators and beginners alike share insights into sustainable farming practices.

Click YouTube icon below to watch Nyasha’s interview.

Recently, Nyasha and her group of scores of smallholder farmers held a 2-day zonal agricultural show. Nyasha said the first day of the show was slated for discussions around agroecology. On this day, farmers exchanged ideas on possible, cheap and sustainable agricultural alternatives to employ in trying to mitigate the effects of the recent El-Nino-induced drought. Exhibitions and celebrations were later conducted on the second and final day of the event.

Click YouTube icon below to watch the highlights of the event.

The importance of these gatherings cannot be overstated. They serve as a living library of agroecological knowledge, where information flows freely and innovations take root. Here, farmers discuss crop rotation strategies that enrich the soil, natural pest control methods that reduce reliance on harmful chemicals, and water conservation techniques essential in the face of climate change. The shows influence collective community learning and the shared ambition to nurture the land that sustains them.

This year’s event was interwoven with the culture day celebrations to reflect an inseparable nexus between agroecology, culture, and indigenous knowledge. Stalls adorned with intricate crafts and vibrant textiles stood beside those showcasing organic produce and our own treasured indigenous seeds, symbolising the fusion of culture and agriculture (permaculture).

As a facilitator of knowledge and a guardian of cultural legacy, Nyasha’s journey from academia to the heart of her community exemplifies the transformative potential of education when applied with passion, commitment, and purpose. It is a narrative of empowerment, and development which demonstrates how one person’s dedication to agroecology can sow the seeds for a future where the people of Mhondoro-Ngezi thrive in harmony with the environment.

In Mhondoro, the agricultural shows are more than just events; they are a celebration of life, learning, and the enduring spirit of Zimbabwe despite serial droughts.

We want to thank one of our partners, Brot fur die Welt, for sponsoring programmes such as the TSASAZ where agriculture extension officers like Nyasha gain and transfer sustainable farming skills to smallholder farmers in their respective areas of operation.  

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