THE 107th edition of the Manicaland Agricultural Show got underway this week and will run for five days — from September 27 to October 1, 2017.
Organisers of the event revealed that they had 160 confirmed exhibitors — the same number that graced the event from start to end last year. Let’s hope they are not just the same exhibitors because if they are the same, then exhibiting would be as tedious as doing work.
This may mean there is very little or no business taking place this time around, or that the exhibitors failed to garner enough business deals to satiate their hunger for success and might have been just hoping things could improve this time around. While this could be a reflection of the biting effects of the economic challenges that the country is slogging through, it may also mean that the organisers are doing something that business is finding difficult to live with. Maybe charges for exhibiting space are not as favourable as exhibitors might have wanted, or they may not be seeing the value of coming to party.
The organisers have steadfastly reiterated that more exhibitors would have turned up by the end of the show, which will mean that the figures will soar beyond 160 but there are also chances they could be putting up a brave face yet fully knowing the figure may not change for the positive.
That some exhibitors were still putting final touches to their stands on the day the five-day jamboree started may also mirror the difficult circumstances that exhibitors are putting up with to eventually come to showcase their wares or may also be a sign of not being very organised since they all knew of this event and should have done their homework before business got underway.
This year’s event is running under the theme “Sustainable Industrial and Agricultural Innovations Through Renewable Energy”, which means it is not just like any other. It should be an event that inflames the spirit of agricultural innovation while taking the industry through the inevitable reality that renewable energy is now the in-thing, as old energy sources are getting exhausted or no longer compliant with the current business environment yet agriculture should be practised and with better results season after season.
Of course, the gate charges for the public are not atrocious but the fact still remains that they too need to see the value of their hard-earned money the moment they walk through the gates into the exhibition space. What they experience should be enough to spur them into coming for the next edition as participants not just show-goers so there should also be strict vetting of the exhibitors right from the district levels so that the event makes business sense for all.
Sometimes the entertainment that the organisers avail to showgoers may literally serve as their drawcard and in the process enable them to recoup some costs through bumper turnouts. The line-up of musicians —Winky D, Killer T and Freeman — while very appealing to the young, may be repulsive to the mature that may prefer to listen to music that the youthful generation regards as old school.
Maybe one or two sungura or gospel musicians could have brought in the missing edge that was needed to cater for all tastes. After all, it is the mature generation that is usually involved in serious business that is expected to woo more exhibitors or would-be exhibitors. It is, however, refreshing to note that there are new exhibitors in the form of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, Willowton and many small to medium enterprises representatives that have found time to come for this provincial business expo.
From the organisers’ list of security arrangements, we are sure chances of anyone going away complaining that they were not in a secure environment where their business interests were protected are very slim if not non-existent. Show organisers may just need to spice it up by introducing closed circuit television so that those that sneak past human scrutiny to perform one or two nefarious acts, may easily find themselves sniffed out and no one will try it going forward.
The show is a platform for farmers, input and other service providers to interact, share ideas, create synergies and, above all, get to know each other well for ease of doing business.
It’s exciting to note that even foot and mouth could not stop cattle from coming to the party, thanks to the innovative intervention of the Department of Veterinary Services.