By Tapiwa Machemedze
FARMERS in Mazowe district are experiencing mixed fortunes during this Covid-19 induced national lockdown, with some farmers struggling to sell their produce while others are recording good business.
Covid 19 has increased demand for healthy and nutritious foods, but logistical challenges due to the national lockdown have lowered demand in some areas.
At Zanadu farm in Mazowe, citrus fruits are ripening but there are no takers, with citrus farmer Retired Colonel Credence Kanouruka recording a loss of about 15 percent in revenue earnings from his 8-hectare plantation.
“Middlemen usually come and buy citrus here from Harare and as far as Bulawayo. Some even buy to export to Zambia but due to the lockdown they are failing to get here because they are stopped at roadblocks,” he said.
Some of the produce is gathered to reduce fruit flies in the plantation and fed to livestock as a nutritious supplement.
Smallholder farmers operating a roadside vegetable garden at Lockwood farm are, however, singing a different tune as the lockdown has brought brisk business since they are strategically located.
“We rely on this garden for sending our kids to school and meeting our day to day needs and the lockdown means many other markets are closed so our sales are higher. We are strategically located along the roadside so many cars pass here and we actually have more customers since lockdown,” they said.
Mazowe district Food and Nutrition Committee Chairperson Prosper Muvhiringi said food security remains a top priority even under lockdown hence farmers should collect letters that enable travel to access markets.
“The Mazowe community is made up of vendors, artisanal miners and farmers so the lockdown significantly impacts them but we encourage the creation of nutrition gardens and rearing small livestock. Farmers should also come to our offices and get letters so that they can reach markets unhindered,” he said.
The government reopened fresh produce markets 10 days into the lockdown in line with the essential service status given to the agriculture sector.
Mixed fortunes for Mazowe district farmers
By Tapiwa Machemedze