Market intelligence vital for small-scale farmers

17 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Market intelligence vital for small-scale farmers

The Sunday Mail

Word From the Market with Simon Pande

THE marketing landscape for horticultural products in Zimbabwe is characterised by two distinct platforms. These are the domestic and export markets.

The domestic market comprises outlets within the country. Here we are talking about roadside markets; places such as Mbare Musika; supermarkets; and wholesalers. On the other hand, the export market refers to outlets beyond Zimbabwe’s borders. Regionally, we have the South Africa and Mozambique markets, et cetera. Overseas, we have European and Asian markets, among others.

Each particular market has its peculiar requirements about quantity, quality and consistency of supply.

To facilitate access to the domestic and international markets by small-scale farmers, the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is engaging potential off-takers of various horticultural products at both levels.

It is critical for farmers to understand the market requirements before selecting a particular horticultural activity to pursue. Market research should, therefore, inform the horticultural product to focus on. These off-takers have their standards and terms of engagement that should be adhered to religiously if one is to be accepted as a supplier of horticultural products.

Notable off-takers of horticultural products in Zimbabwe include OK Zimbabwe Limited, Farm & City, Willsgrove, Selby and Food Lovers.

The largest mass markets by volume include Mbare Musika in Harare, Sakubva in Mutare and Renkini in Bulawayo.

As mentioned earlier, these markets have varying requirements when supplying them with fresh farm produce.

Below are some of the general requirements in Zimbabwe:

  • Registration of farmers for inclusion on the supplier lists of the buyers
  • Buyers require quality products of the right size and a long shelf life: for instance, they prefer semi-ripe tomatoes compared to those that are fully ripe
  • Buyers require farmers to supply products in clean crates and vehicles
  • An invoice with banking details of the farmer
  • Normally, most buyers pay within seven to 14 days from the date of delivery.
  • Specific to the tomato value chain, buyers require them to be of uniform shape, symmetry and size, and to be free from pests and diseases.
  • Farmers should also note that tomatoes should be free from any pungent smell and should not be contaminated by any foreign material.

Last Friday, horticulture sector actors met in Mutoko, Mashonaland East province, to exchange notes on export opportunities for Zimbabwean horticultural products.

The main agenda of this interface was to enlighten potential exporters of horticultural products on international requirements and standards.

The key giveaway was the Global Good Agricultural Practices certification process for Zimbabwe exporters. This relates to international standards about chemical residue levels permitted, and pest and disease control methods employed at the farm level and in value addition processes.

In addition, aspects to do with sanitation around the environs of the production area, the welfare of employees and adherence to child labour laws are all considered for one to be certified to export to the European market, for instance.

Several initiatives are being pursued by Government agencies to raise awareness among farmers and other value-chain actors on the requirements cited above.

AMA is also spearheading facilitation of an exhibition by local companies at the Italian fruit and vegetable expo scheduled for May. This is an opportunity for local companies to present their products to the international market and understand the requirements to penetrate it.

This dovetails with the country’s agenda of national development through increased exports of horticultural products. The horticulture sector in Zimbabwe has huge potential to contribute significantly to foreign currency earnings for the country.

*Simon Pande is AMA horticulture and livestock expert. Word From The Market is a column produced by AMA to promote market-driven production. Feedback: [email protected] or WhatsApp +263781706212.

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