Zimbabwe : Bulawayo urges youth to go farming

Date: August 30, 2019
  • SHARE:

The Bulawayo City Council’s Vocational Training Program for school leavers has different disciplines that are relevant to today’s economy where the community is trained, including urban agriculture on which I will dwell on as a good practice for food security and self-employment as major goals at Mabutweni Scientific Garden. This project started in October 2017 in preparation for its first intake for short courses in January 2018. The training for school leavers involves theory and practical lessons in Horticulture for a period of six months. The syllabi include training on the following mushroom growing, poultry and farming or cash crops.

As per Government and Local authority policy that has much emphasis on poverty, hunger alleviation (SDG goal # 4) and employment creation for the youth especially the girl child. Youths should be awarded a recognizable status of going skills for life. They are to engage in activities that will keep their lives safe as well as environmentally friendly therefore the scientific garden. Growing crops understudied environments that will provide safe food without herbicides, insecticides. The ultimate goal is to reduce the use of harmful chemicals and improve the use of space. The scientific gardens train the school leavers on the above safe cropping methods, the community will also benefit from the same model. Schools, Colleges and Universities will also use the centre as a study zone for scientific research as to date there is no centre in Bulawayo that caters for such studies since the syllabus focuses on agriculture from primary levels to university. This will involve universities like NUST, Lupane State University, Hillside Teacher’s College, and United College of Education being monitored by Agritex. This will address the problem of unemployment and poverty eradication through self-employment and food production

Key Actions 

Students are trained by local instructors within the vocational training centres using syllabus from the government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Agriculture. It also trains them through Agritex on mushroom production, examinations are set and the certificates are issued after the completion of the short course of three months. The Scientific Garden includes the poultry project which was spearheaded through a donation by Barclays bank where the Council provided fowl runs for rearing broiler chickens. These chickens are fed, reared, treated and slaughtered after they mature at six weeks. The market was sought among council staff members. The other program included at the Garden is cash crops growing. The soil is treated, crops grown are vegetables (spinach, tomatoes, carrots, onions, chomoulier, cabbage) maize, and legumes, the centre also had a donation from Gampu Primary School of banana circus signalling the beginning of an orchard at the garden. Prior to the end of these listed above projects, the centre trains the students on entrepreneurship on how to start and run their own businesses as well as finding their market. The Bulawayo Council in conjunction with BWSSIP trained some of them on entrepreneurship; this promotes self-employment and self-sustenance as well as benefiting the community on hunger alleviation.


The local government (City of Bulawayo) is one of the partners. They provided the land for vocational training programs and fliers for information for the students. Barclays Bank is also a partner and contributed by providing one hundred chicks and the bags of feeds, drinking containers and treatment.

Agritex on the other hand provided mushroom spores are needed for the program. In addition, they contributed with cotton waste, maize stalk for growing the mushroom. They have also provided with heating drums and measuring scales.

Another partner was the vocational centre who provided with field space for the Scientific garden and classrooms for theory lessons. They were also able to provide transportation for the students from their different locations to the college, and on top of that, they managed to contribute with their refreshments.


School leavers cannot secure employment in Zimbabwe hence the need to be trained in various skills e.g. life skills for placement and above all self-employment, hunger and poverty eradication through the Scientific Garden. T.J. Trust working with Parents Association and Faith-based groups encouraged school leavers to join the pieces of training and the youth centres to keep them occupied and trained in various life skills. Distributions of flyers mainly in different Secondary Schools, Libraries, Churches, other social clubs and Shopping Centres and through carrier guidance in schools for example Cowdray Park Secondary, Entumbane High School and Saint Peters Village.


The Scientific Garden Project faced challenges in relation to the facilities to the centre. Ablution facilities require rehabilitation whereas mushroom growing requires proper structures to be constructed. Chicken runs currently being used are not adequate hence funding to construct additional fowl runs is required. The school is currently lodging in another centre in Mabutweni Home Craft Centre for theory lessons awaiting for the new classroom block to be built. There was low enrolment (its full capacity is 50) therefore massive advertising was put in place using fliers, word of mouth, carrier guidance to make the centre known as well as improving its enrolment. There were financial constraints which were eased through Barclays bank and Agritex partnership. Water challenges due to load shedding of electricity during the day because irrigation pumps depend on electricity for watering, therefore, the filling of the reservoir tank during the night in order to avoid the wilting of crops which results in low productivity.

Immediate results and next steps        

The first intake had twenty graduates who were certified and now working on their own. The centre is producing and selling chickens, tomatoes, rape, spinach, fresh mealies, chomolieur and mushrooms. This income-generating project has improved the livelihoods of the students who have benefited from the proceeds generated from the sales. The students who graduated are now doing their own projects on mushroom growing and selling to the community, shops, and local supermarkets. Some of the students are now rearing chickens for sale and consumption thereby improving their food security and nutritional status. Training colleges also refer their trainees for practical work. The Centre stands as a Research, learning and reference centre for all Schools, Universities and Colleges in Bulawayo and around the city for both practical and theory work. The centre still needs to build more classrooms and venture into new projects such as Beekeeping, Piggery, Fishery and Greenhouse farming.

Long term Impact  

The project has empowered young men and women to be self-sufficient and self-employed especially the girl child. They are now self-sufficient and stay away from bad practices such as alcohol, drug abuse, prostitution and crime. They are now role models to the young people in their community. Other youths now look forward to joining and be trained on skills offered at the centre thus increasing the enrolment. Also, the community is proud to have such a centre in their neighbourhood because they are now able to buy fresh garden produce within their range without incurring transport costs and walking long distances. The projects can be on a large scale for example chicken, mushroom and cash crops. There are partners and knowledge-based organizations that are willing to give a hand such as Barclays bank, Agritex and Non-governmental organizations and Trusts.

Learning and how this will be applied

Mushroom can be grown and sold thereby creating employment for the locals. Raising chickens can also be done on a larger scale with appropriate expertise. It has also been realized that the community in high-density suburbs is eager to learn especially the girl child, this is why the centre has been moved from peri-urban to where it is situated now. The centre is within walking distance for most of them and even those coming from further locations can easily get transport as it is now affordable and the place is central located in the city. There are partners and knowledge-based organizations from both the private sector and public institutions that are willing to give a hand. Already organizations such as Barclays Bank, Agritex, Non-governmental organizations and Trusts they partnered with Council to improve the centre. The students learn to prepare the land, to do plant population, germination percentage to apply fertilizer and monitor them, as well as monitoring temperature using the hygrometer in mushroom growing.

Comment on Zimbabwe : Bulawayo urges youth to go farming

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *