Senior Business Reporter
Government has plans to fund and co-ordinate extension support towards horticulture producers in a bid to increase production from 2018. The programme, which will target commercial and smallholder producers, will see identified farmers receive support in the form of financial and extension services. This was revealed by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa in his 2018 National Budget presentation last week.
“Some of these farmers would be requiring rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation infrastructure, access to handling technologies, market access, financial services and capacity building. Participating farmers will largely be drawn from both the commercial and smallholder farming communities, with the programme anchored on commercial farmers with expertise in horticulture production,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said smallholder farmers would participate as outgrowers.
“This intervention will provide us with new opportunities to economically empower farmers, particularly smallholder ones, create employment opportunities, as well as earn foreign currency,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Agriculture is estimated to grow by 15,9 percent in 2017, on the back of Government coordinated interventions in partnership with the private sector and the growth is expected to be supported by the expanded Command Agriculture programme, which now includes soyabeans and livestock production.
The move is likely to be welcome by horticulture producers in Manicaland who have in the past contributed probably the largest share of horticulture products on the market. However, the industry has been bedevilled by numerous challenges over the past years, which have been exacerbated by the influx of cheap imports that have nearly annihilated the industry.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) deputy president for Manicaland Mr Kenneth Saruchera last month said the revival of the horticulture industry could anchor the growth of industries in the region.