FOLLOWING concerns raised by horticulture and floriculture farmers, Government has committed itself to re-engage the European markets and facilitate partnership and contract farming for local farmers, as well as offering financial support.
In an interview, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said Government would soon facilitate workshops for farmers to be able to explore European markets and making policies that make the farming business viable. Deputy Minister Marapira said he would invite European companies so that they could interact with local farmers and facilitate contract farming and partnerships.
He said it was the responsibility of Government to facilitate such opportunities for local farmers since the horticulture and floriculture sector had great potential of generating foreign currency. Marapira said Government had already shown its commitment to supporting horticulture and floriculture through a credit facility by Agribank.
"We do acknowledge the fact that it is the responsibility of Government to ensure that horticulture and floriculture farming business is viable and economic We are going to organise a workshop for the farmers to ensure that they explore the European markets. If they approach us, we can invite European buyers to come and interact with our local horticulture and floriculture farmers and form partnerships or even contract farming," he said.
"As Government, we have an obligation of making laws that make horticulture and floriculture farming viable. We have a loan facility through Agribank tailor-made for horticulture and floriculture farmers." Marapira said farmers should not surrender all the responsibility to Government, but should ensure that their products met the standard and were Euro-compliant as stipulated by the European Union. He said horticulture and floriculture farmers were sabotaging each other by not sharing vital information and monopolising markets.
"There is need for horticulture and floriculture farmers to form vibrant associations and farmers clubs. We used to have those. Those farmers that have European facilities should sub-contract other farmers so that they support each other.
"We have our own marketing companies in England. We used to have Interfresh in Zimbabwe which used to export horticulture products on behalf of local farmers."
Floriculture accounts for at least 70 percent of the total value of horticultural exports and 30 percent by volume, which amounts to 14 500 tonnes. Most exports, spanning a season from mid-September to late May, are channelled to the Dutch auctions.