By Robert Tapfumaneyi
AGRICULTURE, Rural and Development Authority (ARDA) board chair, Basil Nyabadza has fumed at the quality of university graduates churned out to state parastatals every year when they hardly knew anything about the field they were studying for.
Addressing guests on ARDA’s productive role in devolution in Harare recently, Nyabadza said state universities chancellor and President Emmerson Mnangagwa was unknowingly capping thousands of “useless” agriculture graduates who did not even know what work combine harvesters did but claim to be ripe for the employment market.
The ARDA board chair also lamented that the agricultural institutions’ syllabi were not in sync with the reality on the ground. He said there was a big variance between the syllabi and field work.
“Are we training graduands who are exposed to reality,” Nyabadza said.
“Some of them 3rd and 4th year students, we asked ‘what is ARDA?’. There were at sixes and sevens. What is GMB (grain Marketing Board)? What is Cotton Marketing Board? What is CSC (Cold Storage Commission)? They didn’t know these things.
“We took 40 students from Midlands State University (MSU), the vice chancellor, dean of students and the Minister of State to the field and we were harvesting wheat with a combine harvester.
“They have not encountered a harvester doing its work in a field, they have never seen it.
“They have never slept on a farm and they are undergraduates for agriculture ready to hunt in the field.
“And most of them were surprised and yet they want to be hunters in agriculture. That’s amiss!
“Every year, his Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa caps them, all of them wanting to look for jobs.”
Nyabadza said just to test the 40 students’ willingness to be farming, he gave them some homework and two thirds of them did not attempt to do it.
“After the tour, I gave them homework to write what they have seen on the farm, only 12 responded, the others told us when we went for graduation that they were busy with their examinations,” Nyabadza said.
“Then we said 12 is a good number, those who do religion will realise that it’s a good number Jesus Christ had 12 disciples.
“And they are guaranteed jobs in the parastatals of agriculture because they demonstrated that they were ready for life after graduation, because they demonstrated the willingness and we gave them prices and top among them was a little girl who got two prices.”
He added that it is wrong for students to start looking for agriculture parastatals after graduation but must start from the first year of learning.
Basil Nyabadza addressing guests