Farmers have been encouraged to venture into horticulture and explore regional and international markets to improve Zimbabwe’s foreign currency earnings.
Presently, many farmers are involved in traditional and cereal grains production to ensure national food security, although farmers have struggled to produce enough maize, soya beans and wheat due to a number of reasons including erratic rainfall patterns, high temperatures and financial constraints.
This has seen Zimbabwe using the little foreign currency available to import the grains to avert starvation.
After exploring various international markets, a newly resettled farmer who recently embarked on extensive horticulture at his Delaros Farm, about 7km from the now defunct former mining settlement of Mhangura, Tafadzwa Nyikadzino (37), urged both A 1 and A2 farmers to venture into the highly rewarding horticulture business.
Mr Nyikadzino, who has 60 hectares under sugar beans, peas, tomatoes and ginger and passion fruit for regional and international markets, and another 50 hectares under winter wheat, said a lot of foreign markets demanded the crops.
He was speaking during a “Horticulture Promotion Field-Day for Regional and International Markets”, held at his farm on Saturday.
The DRC, Mozambique, Zambia and United Arab Emirates, were some of the top markets for horticultural produce.
“There are a number of unexplored markets that we as a nation should focus on. Our agricultural practices have to transform from perennial cereal production and diversify, putting cognisance on horticultural produce as it brings quick foreign currency,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be inward looking as farmers and as a nation, but look for better external markets. Zambia, which is 3 hours’ drive from here (Mhangura) is being serviced by South African farmers who take probably two days to deliver the produce.”
He said Zimbabwean farmers should take advantage of their proximity to Zambia to supply their produce and help the country generate foreign currency.
Mr Nyikadzino said horticulture farmers were expected to produce quality and standard produce so that they do not only takeover foreign markets, but also raise the country’s flag.
He has 120 permanent workers at his farm, which draws water from a dam located about 7 km away.
Officiating at the event, Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, challenged beneficiaries of the land reform programme to emulate Mr Nyikadzino.
“He has shown great resilience despite facing economic challenges and this is shown through his appreciation of Government’s effort to empower the nation through land as he established a vibrant horticulture enterprise targeting local, regional and international markets,” she said.
“Farmers should emulate these good works and help cut the import bill.”
She urged farmers to create synergies with neighbouring nations and take advantage of the business opportunities in their areas.
Mashonaland West Provincial Agritex officer, Mrs Edna Shambare, who was standing in for Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr John Basera, encouraged farmers to take advantage of the revival of farmers’ clubs to penetrate international markets.
She said the agriculture mechanisation programme recently launched by President Mnangagwa was a sign that Government was determined to support farmers to produce enough for the nation.
Mhangura MP, Cde Precious Masango called on farmers to explore new avenues in farming and desist from underutilising land.
Field tour lectures were done by Seed Co agronomist, Mr Phillip Matombo and Agritext provincial agronomist, Siyena Makaza.