Oliver Kazunga recently in Harare
COORDINATED agricultural show society activities are crucial in enhancing farming output and harnessing opportunities along the value chain so as to boost the economy.
The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) life vice president Dr Robbie Mupawose said this in his keynote address at the launch of the National Association of Agricultural Show Societies in Harare on Friday.
He said the prevailing macro-economic environment has seen revenues for many show societies dwindling and thus sustaining their operations has been challenging.
“In many instances, annual membership fees are insignificant. Corporate sponsorship is dwindling and exhibitors and show goer numbers fluctuate annually but overall are on the decline.
“It is in this vein that the official launch of this National Association of Agricultural Societies of Zimbabwe (NAASZ) should play a facilitatory and even catalytic role in ensuring that show societies remain relevant in the national agricultural development of Zimbabwe,” said Dr Mupawose.
A total of 15 agricultural show societies from different parts of the country including Bulawayo Agricultural Society, Gwanda Show Society and Whange Show Society have joined NAASZ.
The ZAS life vice president said despite the formation of NAASZ, show societies should continue to strive to contribute, as in the past, to agricultural development in their respective regions as independent societies.
Dr Mupawose urged the NAASZ to ensure that show dates do not clash for exhibitors and show goers to find time to attend as many fairs as possible in a year.
This, he said, could also assist in generating additional and much-needed revenue for the show societies in the country.
“We must share ideas and learn from each other. I remember the time when the Harare Show Society was nearly broke-depending on income from gate takings alone.
“After my visit to Australia as guest at their show in Melbourne and learnt that business stands and exhibits were major sources of income. We introduced the concept and we survived,” said Dr Mupawose.
He said the launch of the NAASZ was gratifying to many including those who over the years mooted the idea of a national association.
“Many have spent quite some considerable time and effort towards nurturing this idea over the years. Our membership at the time we hosted the Royal Agricultural Societies of the Common Conference, which gave an impetus for unity of societies.
“The show societies themselves saw the need to coordinate their activities some years back, following which some very informal meetings were held to share common experiences, ideas and challenges, primarily with a view to use the shows as a platform for the incremental advancement of agriculture in Zimbabwe,” said Dr Mupawose.