Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter
EXPORT promotion body, Zimtrade, is assisting small-scale farmers to get certified to export produce to European Union markets.
In an interview with Post Business, Zimtrade chief executive Mr Allan Majuru said farmers were not able to access EU markets if their products did not meet specified quality standards, hence the need to have them certified.
“We are working with some EU funded organisations to help small-scale players to get certified so that they can export their products to the EU. They don’t give money but they assist with technical expertise to small-scale farmers so that they can meet European standards to export because that is a basic requirement,” he said.
He said the trade promotion body also had another programme that would kick off next year, specifically targeting farmers in the Eastern Highlands.
“This is a programme that is going to be targeting mainly the Eastern Highlands to make sure that we assist the small-scale farmers in cooperatives to export their products,” he said.
Mr Majuru said farmers needed to be organised, as they could not make a meaningful impact on export markets individually.
“We are going to work together in organising them to become cooperatives because the market is too big for them to tackle it individually. We cannot be seen as competitors internally for the export market but we have to come together. We have to train each other on basic principles of business management. Zimtrade will therefore be conducting training called ‘Marketing and value for international competitiveness,’ which we normally give to SMEs so that they understand the export business, financial literacy and all those things. These are quite simple but they make or break a business so the farmers have to understand that,” he said.
He said after training, Zimtrade would then bring in development partners to assist with technical expertise to increase productivity.
“We are working with senior experts from the Netherlands; they can assist with technical expertise for productivity and also access to markets. We will bring them along to assist us in making sure that Manicaland is strategically positioned for exports,” he added.
Mr Majuru said the only way out of the current economic challenges was through exports and the country should start growing exports at community level.
He said Kenya had adopted the same model of using simple technologies at the community level to grow exports.
“During our recent Zimbabwe Exporters’ Conference, President Mnangagwa alluded to the fact that the plan was to make sure in each district, we had at least one exporter. And it is quite possible. You can grow for your self-sustenance but also put aside a portion for export,” he said. He said farmers could adopt the 80/20 model where 80 percent of their produce was for self-sustenance and 20 percent was set aside for exports