Soybean BNF Promotion Program

To ensure that the socio-economic benefits of BNF reach the ordinary people, a phased promotion program was initiated from 1996 with a coordinating unit (CU) located at the University of Zimbabwe. The main strategy has been training farmers, extension agents and agro-dealers from both public and private sectors in practical BNF technology application including inoculant handling, seed dressing and agronomic aspects, soybean processing and use as food including removal of anti-nutrition factors and marketing of inputs and outputs through a train-the-trainer program. Selected community representatives are trained and sent to train others in their local areas. The Coordinating Unit (CU) works under the guidance of a National Soybean Promotion Task Force with representation from all stakeholder groups including several NGOs to ensure that information flows to all the players through training workshops, electronic (radio, television) and written (newsletters, brochures) media. The CU encourages linkages and facilitates stakeholders to play their part in ensuring that the benefits of soybean BNF reach as many farming communities as possible as illustrated in Figure 3.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played an important part in sourcing funds for BNF technology training for rural communities and local extension agents and micro-finance. The CU has set up strategically located farmer-managed and extension-supervised technology transfer demonstration plots to show proper application of BNF technology, soybean varietal performance and rotational effects with maize. After harvest farmers have been trained to grade their crop for seed and for the market and given tips on managing crop residues for soil fertility enhancement and as livestock feed. In all cases farmers undertake most of the tasks to ensure self-reliance and sustainability. Traders and agro-dealers have added soybean inputs such as seed, inoculants and fertilizers, and harvested grain to their list of trading items.

Farming communities

Figure 3. Coordination linkages of stakeholders in the soybean promotion program in Zimbabwe. Key activities in the links include training, information exchange, adaptive research and movement of inputs, outputs and cash.

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