The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE is now food-secure and farmers’ livelihoods are improving after this year’s bumper harvest.
Word from the Market
The Second Republic, led by President Mnangagwa, is determined to transform the country’s agriculture sector and help it contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030.
Its reform agenda has not just ensured food security, but has boosted rural incomes and spurred rural industrialisation and development as well. Local farmers should now be pushing for a bigger share of the export market.
There is no doubt that Zimbabwe has the potential to be a net exporter of agricultural produce. This means farmers should change the way they market their produce.
Digital marketing, which is increasingly important in today’s world, is advisable. It refers to the use of digital channels such as search engines, social media platforms, email, websites and mobile applications to promote products or services, and engage customers.
Through digital marketing, farmers are allowed to reach more customers, as they can easily expand their scope beyond geographical boundaries.
Unlike traditional marketing methods that have limited reach, digital marketing enables farmers to target specific demographics, interests and locations. This level of targeting ensures that marketing efforts are directed at the right audiences, increasing chances of conversion and return on investment.
The Government has also been engaged in a drive to transform rural areas into industrial hubs, where beneficiation and value addition of agricultural products is central, in line with the Agriculture Recovery Plan. This is meant to turn farming into a profitable business.
In pursuance of this thrust, the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), in collaboration with other development partners, embarked on a training-of-trainers programme for agricultural extension officers in Mashonaland West and Matabeleland South provinces.
The training programme was meant to equip extension officers with agricultural and digital marketing skills to help advise farmers on what to produce, when to produce and for who to produce, as well as how to market their produce.
Some farmers usually produce without a market.
The training programme is in line with the New Dispensation’s new governance paradigm, which encourages parastatals to enter into public-private partnerships to undertake projects or provide services that benefit the public.
It is important for local farmers to do market-oriented production to realise the aspirations of the National Development Strategy 1, and take advantage of viable production arrangements, such as contract farming, that guarantee a market for farmers.
If farmers deploy digital tools in marketing their produce, they reach a wider audience beyond their local markets. Online platforms, including websites and social media, help showcase products and services to potential customers globally. This increased visibility helps to expand market reach and attract new customers.
Creating a market will obviously minimise post-harvest losses.
Remember, digital marketing enables precise targeting of specific customer segments based on demographics and interests.
By using data analytics and online advertising tools, agriculture businesses can identify their ideal customers and tailor their marketing messages accordingly. This targeted approach ensures that promotional efforts are directed towards individuals who are more likely to be interested in agricultural products or services.
Compared to other marketing methods such as print advertisements or television commercials, digital marketing offers a more cost-effective solution for farmers.
Online advertising platforms allow for flexible budgeting options, enabling farmers to allocate their resources efficiently.
Additionally, digital marketing campaigns can be easily tracked and measured, providing valuable insights into the return on investment of marketing efforts.
Digital marketing also facilitates real-time communication between agribusinesses and their customers.
Through social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, farmers can engage potential customers instantly.
This direct interaction helps in building trust, addressing customer queries or concerns promptly and fostering long-term relationships.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn offer powerful tools for promoting agricultural products and engaging with customers.
By creating compelling content, sharing updates about farming practices or product innovations and running targeted advertising campaigns, farmers can build brand awareness and attract potential customers. Informative and engaging content is crucial for establishing thought leadership in the agriculture industry. Farmers can leverage on videos and pictures to share their expertise, educate customers about sustainable farming practices and provide insights into the agricultural value chain. There is no doubt that digital marketing will enable farmers to expand their market reach beyond local boundaries.
Farmers can now connect with customers in different regions or countries, and increase sales.
Cliff Chiduku is AMA’s communications officer. Word from the Market is a column produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority to promote market-driven production. Feedback: [email protected] or WhatsApp/Call +263781706212.