President Mnangagwa is today expected to officially open the 110th Zimbabwe Agricultural Show, which started yesterday at the Harare Exhibition Park.
This year’s show is unique in that some functions will be held virtually while visitors will be tightly controlled to prevent Covid-19.
The show is largely seen this year as a farmer to business meeting, rather than a major event for public entertainment.
The annual show is normally held at the end of August, but was postponed to the end of October, owing to Covid-19.
The show is being held under the theme “Synergies for Growth: Cooperate; Collaborate; Complement”, which is aimed at rallying support for agriculture and attendant value chains for increased production and profitability.
Safety and health measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of both exhibitors and visitors. Temperature checks, sanitisation, and all Government-related regulations on Covid-19 are being adhered to.
Yesterday, activity was low with some exhibitors putting last-minute touches to their stands. There were no queues at the entrances and most at the Exhibition Park were business people who were either exhibitors, competitors in various categories or service providers.
Activities included a food and security business breakfast meeting to give executives, captains of industries and Government officials an opportunity to meet and network and come up with solutions affecting production, plus the opening ceremony of the 9th edition of the Africa Green Waste and Energy Expo and conference.
Some of the exhibitors said they were optimistic that they were going to realise better business opportunities despite the effects of Covid-19 as they met and network, even without large crowds.
A rabbit producer, Mr Gift Jambaya of Afrow Farm, said the issue was not about large crowds, but meeting the right business people.
“We had been waiting for this opportunity to showcase our products. This is our fifth year to exhibit here and we are looking forward to realise good business this week,” he said.
Arts exhibitor, Mr Leon Suraji of Arts Unlimited, said he remains hopeful that he was going to meet business counterparts.
“Despite the challenges we may face such as Covid-19, business will still go on. Challenges mean that we have to find new ways of doing business. We will adopt the new way of doing things,” he said.
ZAS chairman Mr Ivan Craig said organisers are using selected halls with exhibitions for different companies along the agricultural value chain from soil testing, land preparation, production and value addition among others.
“Proceedings took off at a slow pace, which is typical of the first day of every year. Strict Covid-19 measures have been put in place and we are limiting the numbers of people and activities that could have invigorated the event.
“People and vehicles are being sanitised as they come in as dictated by WHO regulations on Covid-19 prevention that require all people coming for the show to be wearing masks properly,” he said. Mr Craig said there was abundant security with the police and private security companies out in full force and helping to enforce Covid-19 regulations, especially on social distancing and maintaining the recommended numbers in groups. Activities like horse riding, face painting and fireworks will not be part of the event this year as a way of avoiding people congregating into large groups.