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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Call to enhance farmers’ mass markets

Story by Tapiwa Machemedze

SMALLHOLDER farmers and market traders have called for the rehabilitation of mass markets to boost their revenue streams.

While agriculture is a major economic driver contributing 12 % to the gross domestic product in 2022, smallholder farmers are losing potential revenue due to restrictive trading conditions at wholesale markets.

Bindura farm produce market is a case in point with farmers from as far as Muzarabani being exposed to harsh weather conditions while the lack of storage facilities is forcing them to dump their products at the market.

“I come from Muzarabani to sell my produce and I have challenges regarding space, it should be increased otherwise we end up fighting with middle man. We require longer trading periods because our products are perishable and we have to sell them quickly in a short period,” said one of the farmers.

Wholesale market traders blamed the Bindura Town Council for failing to develop the market.

“Our market is becoming smaller, traders are increasing while farmers are increasing. But the market and the infrastructure is not improving. Farmers have no representatives, and we end up being their representatives while we have our constituency to represent,” said Bindura Wholesale Markets chairman, Mr. Brain Deve.

Non-governmental organisations like Fachig Trust and EMkambo have since opened dialogue with the local authority and government departments to boost the growth of smallholder farming enterprises.

“Councils alone have failed to get enough resources to enhance these markets and we hope from the fiscus there can be an allocation to markets just like there is support for purchasing of inputs. Many of our farmers face challenges when they sell at markets like Mbare, Bindura market and Chikonohono in Chinhoyi so we gathered many stakeholders to discuss so that these markets are recognised and strengthened markets,” said Mr Thomas Mupetesi from Fachig Trust.

EMkambo Business Development Manager, Mr Clever Mukove said, “Our goal is to help households achieve food security through agriculture and micro-enterprise development. They must be seen as markets that contribute to agriculture and national development.”

Zimbabwe has huge farm produce wholesale markets in all provinces with research indicating at least US$3 million changes hands monthly at Mbare Musika in Harare, the country’s largest farmers mass market.

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