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Mkoba Teachers' College starts producing liquid fertilisers

by Staff reporter
13 Sep 2022 at 05:52hrs | Views
Mkoba Teachers' College (MTC) in Gweru, Midlands Province has started producing vegetable and fruit pickles, herbs and liquid fertilisers in line with Education 5.0 philosophy.

The liquid fertilisers are made from plant and animal residue.

The development mirrors the vision of the Second Republic of having tertiary institutions producing graduates with practical problem-solving skills and the ability to be employers as opposed to looking for work after graduation.

The incubation hubs that the Government set up at tertiary institutions are already bearing fruits and showing a big light at the end of the 2030 vision tunnel.

Mkoba Teachers' College has followed the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), which has established plastic container making and honey and fruit processing factories and the Midlands State University (MSU), which came up with a farm produce preservation initiative.

The Government has prioritised developing educational capabilities to catapult science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, under the heritage-based Education 5.0 philosophy.

Located in Mkoba, the college is now waiting for Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) certification before mass production of the products.

Sent to SAZ are organically produced vegetable and fruit pickles, laboratory chemicals, herbs and liquid fertilisers.

The products were made by students with the assistance of their lecturers.

In an interview at the college yesterday, the head of Department for Agriculture Mrs Emmah Gonye said the liquid fertilisers are made from plant and animal residue, hence are organic.

"Organic liquid fertiliser is derived from naturally existing products such as plants and animal manure. This makes it a sustainable product. We are using waste from animals such as rabbits and chicken to make organic fertiliser that provides much-needed nutrition to plants and soil as well," she said.

Mrs Gonye said the institution also has herbal teas produced by the students which are an outcome of the college's adoption of the heritage knowledge systems.

"I can safely say we have started to carve a niche in terms of production and productivity as it has started producing vegetable and fruit pickles, herbs and liquid fertilisers. Laboratory chemicals will be sold to secondary schools for use even in examinations," said Mrs Gonye.

"We are also producing instant porridge. Once certified, the porridge will be sold commercially including to institutions like schools."

Mrs Gonye said the college's products are organic and therefore healthy to consumers and friendly to the environment.

"We have a wide range of vegetables, pickles or tinned vegetables. We produce tinned bananas, beetroot salad, onion, and chilli peppers. These products are ready for eating. The shelf life is six months," she said.

Acting principal Mr Martin Mukwazhe said they have been using the products at the college.

"There are various herbs that we are processing as an institution. We are making chemicals for schools like sodium hydroxide and indicators used in laboratories for carrying out tests. We are actually selling these products to local schools at a subsidised price because it is our duty to provide a service to the community we operate from," he said.

Mr Mukwazhe said what was pleasing to note was the fact that some of the innovations came directly from the students doing projects.

"With the demand for new philosophy to train students who must be able to produce for themselves and for the community at large, we are glad that our students are actually the brains behind some of the innovations. We know that once a student passes through this college, he or she can be a teacher while being an entrepreneur," he said.

Mr Mukwazhe said the college also raises chickens, rabbits and runs their own cutting and designing section.

"We are now feeding our students from what we are producing at the college. We are making our own graduation gowns and printing our own documents," he said.

Mr Mukwazhe said soon, they will launch a red book called Ishasha red book, for primary to secondary examination classes.

"We brought together examination markers, educationists and came up with past examination question papers for different subjects. We want first to make the red book available to the schools in Mkoba and Gweru at large so that we contribute to an increase in pass rate through it," he said.

"Through Education 5.0, the education sector is anchored on the pillars that include teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation. Our students are hands-on in producing these products. They are the ones who are doing all this work."

In the wake of a depressed industry characterised by low productivity and importation of some goods and services, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Amon Murwira,  addressing the MTC graduation ceremony last week, reiterated the need to get the education system to work for the nation as it moves to become a middle-income economy as enunciated by President Mnangagwa's Vision 2030.

"As a Second Republic, we have decided to provide this capital for start-ups. The college is directed to immediately start an innovation and industrialisation programme that allows graduates to form start-ups. These start-ups could be establishing new schools, new factories for manufacturing teaching materials and apparatus and so on.

"This translates to saying that we can establish industries related to the whole education system. As mentioned before, examples can be establishment of simple teaching aids manufacturing factories, a pencil manufacturing industry, production and printing of learning materials among others," he said.

Source - The Chronicle