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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Devolution benefits smallholder farmers

Story by Theophilus Chuma, Investigative Editor

THE Second Republic’s devolution programme has opened boundless opportunities for smallholder horticultural farmers in Mutoko, with over 70 farmers now linked to the agricultural value chain, supplying large corporates and the export market.

An agricultural revolution that is transforming livelihoods through integrating smallholder farmers into the national value chain under the Second Republic’s devolution programme has opened extensive growth opportunities, with farmers now supplying large retailers with fresh produce.

Twenty years ago, 65-year-old Jephta Muramba was just an ordinary farmer whose produce was far from being considered for any market outside the confines of his community.

His fortunes however turned in 2018 when the government adopted the devolution agenda that seeks to ensure economic development in every corner of the country.

Today, he is part of the 70 farmers supplying a large retailer with his fresh green pepper produce.

“Back then it was just farming, but thanks to the government we have opened these opportunities. We are now able to access and supply very big markets. I am very grateful,” he said.

Once a preserve of commercial farmers, the government is opening up this sector and its growth has been phenomenal.

“It has been a huge gain for the farmers and we are grateful to our President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) for creating such an environment that has linked us as smallholder farmers to huge markets. This is a very good initiative that is uplifting us as smallholder farmers,” said Mrs. Egenia Muchena.

“We are now able to make progress as farmers due to the vast opportunities that have been opened through working with the government. We are very grateful for the support that is coming through ZimTrade,” another farmer Simbarashe Muchena.

The devolution programme is all-encompassing, with youths benefitting under the transformational journey that is leaving no one and no place behind.

“I am only 30 years yet I have managed to achieve a lot through agriculture. As a young farmer I look forward to benefiting from the export initiative which the government is pushing for smallholder farmers,” said Mrs Evelyn Masiiwa, a Local Farmer

“The journey has been amazing with all the support that we have been having from the government and ZimTrade. Our lives have been greatly impacted because our incomes have almost doubled as new markets have been opened,” stated Chitora Irrigation Scheme Chairman, Ernest Chamannga.

They have since cast their eyes beyond the domestic market, with plans at an advanced stage to supply produce to Mozambique.

“We managed to engage with some market players in Mozambique and currently are at a stage we are fine-tuning logistical arrangements. But all the ground has been done for these farmers in Chitora to begin to supply their produce to Mozambique,” said Zimtrade Client, Adviser Mr Kupakwashe Midzi.

The Second Republic is prioritising economic development at all levels, with Chitora Irrigation Scheme among many projects that have uplifted livelihoods across the country.

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