By Blessings Chidakwa
The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) has this year scrapped the traditional commitment fee that farmers used to pay for them to showcase their products.
The society has, however, reduced the number of products that can be displayed.
During the exhibition, the society will cater for all the registered farmers’ food and accommodation expenses, an average of $400 per individual. This year’s edition runs from August 27 to September 2.
Speaking at the handover of a motorbike and seed to last year’s overall national third best maize category farmer, Mrs Zvitarise Ruramai in Sanyati, ZAS vice president Mr Ivan Craig said this year’s preparations were at an advanced stage. He said ZAS had, however, introduced a stiff penalty of $250 for farmers that bring children for camping at the exhibition site.
“We used to charge each farmer $15 commitment fee, but some ended up mistaking that fee for accommodation and food allowances, of which it was too minimal.
“This year we have decided to scrap the fee totally for all the seven days that farmers would be camped at the exhibition site during which they will be served three meals per day,” he said.
Mr Craig said ZAS had also revised its yesteryear booklets to come up with a well-established event.
“This enables farmers to reduce transport costs as they carry less produce to the exhibition site,” he said.
Mr Craig said among other benefits, farmers should expect to get free training courses on various disciplines such as first aid, record keeping and agronomy.
He said small-scale farmers play an integral part in the rebuilding process of the country’s economy.
“In a new dispensation, . . . turning around of our economy, based on small-scale farmers, if their produce is of highest quality and well-marketed at the exhibition, it can be exported, thereby contributing to the turnaround of the economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, councillor for Ward 2 (Alabama) in Sanyati Mrs Rachael Manzvanda implored ZAS to consider reviewing downwards its five-year suspension on winners, arguing that it deprived them of the chance to showcase their products until that period expires.
She appealed to the society to allow the farmers to participate after at least three years.