History of the College
Gwebi College of Agriculture was opened on the grounds of the Gwebi Experimental Station on the Lomagundi Road, 27 km from Salisbury in 1950.
Short refresher courses had been offered at the agricultural station to returned servicemen from World War II. Ian Smith is one of many that attended one of these courses after completing his final year of studies at Rhodes University.
Dr Fielding was taken on by the Southern Rhodesian Government in 1949 and was tasked with preparing to establish an agricultural college. He was appointed Principal in 1950 and two-year diplomas were awarded for over 30 years. 18 foundation students graduated in 1951 from the first course. The intake was increased to 36. In 1957 the First Class Diploma were awarded for the first time. Subsequently a maximum of 45 male students were admitted annually and time was divided equally between theory and practical. Subjects included Agricultural Science, Crop Husbandry, Animal Husbandry, Engineering and Farm Management and all subjects were mandatory.
The field that was to become known as "Broadbalk Field" was opened up on the research station in 1909, and has been cultivated since then.
The college covers 1,600 hectares where maize for grain and silage, groundnuts, cotton, wheat, beans and tobacco were grown. Flue cured and Burley tobacco was taught. A pedigree Hereford beef and Holstein dairy herd, flock of Merino and Dorper sheep grazed. There was a small pig and a poultry unit.
The college was administered by the Department of Research and Specialist Services within the Ministry of Agriculture. Demand for entry soared with the number of applicants exceeding 200 so an interview by a panel was held the year before intended date of entry. All students from the mid-1970s, including foreign nationals, were required to complete National Service prior to entry.
The syllabus changed in 1981. Instead of the students completing a season on a farm prior to enrolment for the two year diploma course, the course ran over three years. The farm experience was undertaken in the second year. In addition to the Diploma in Agriculture, a Higher National Diploma in Horticulture is provided. Farmer Training and Outreach programmes are held off-campus. A Block Release Diploma in Agriculture is offered to upgrade the 12,000 holders of the Certificate in Agriculture. A new three week Conservation Agriculture course commenced in August 2015 for the region. The current intake is about 100 students a year but the government has established several colleges around the country with one in each province now so Gwebi has become self-sufficient.
Over the years crop varieties have been analysed in screening trails within the section which became known as the Gwebi Variety Trials Testing Centre (VTTC) on the edge of the college.
The image above was edited from the original photo taken by Peter Dick and displayed by Kevin Moor on 'Spook Moor a rambling blog' and the lower image was taken by Mike Bellis during a visit in 2017.
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