ZIMTRADE and a Netherlands-based organisation, PUM, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will pave way for the successful implementation of the Best Model Farm Project (BMFP) meant to grow horticultural exports from small scale farmers in Zimbabwe.
The two organisations revealed this on Monday in a joint statement released shortly after the signing ceremony.
Zimbabwe exported cut flowers worth $60 million in 2000 according to ZimTrade, making it the second largest exporter after Kenya.
However, production drastically plummeted as new farmers who benefited under the land reform programme, which started in 2000, lacked expertise to cultivate the high value export commodity.
The capacitation of small-scale farmers to augment other initiatives by large-scale farmers is likely to see speed recovery of the horticulture industry.
The BMFP was launched in January 2019 by ZimTrade and PUM to collaborate with three medium sized farms from Mashonaland East and West and Midlands provinces.
Under the four-year pilot project, the three farms will be capacitated to take on board small-scale farmers as their out growers.
"The project, which will be replicated in other provinces across the country, is designed to improve market access for small-scale farmers and grow contribution towards export earnings," said the organisations.
The MoU covers collaboration on infrastructure improvements on identified farms, technical skills development, logistics management and market development.
The diversification of horticultural export products from selected regions will also be covered under the MoU.
This is the second MoU signed between ZimTrade and PUM with the first one in April 2016.
PUM has implemented diverse and successful projects throughout the continent.
A South African manufacturer of field service tool boxes and canopies, Rock Solid Industries, has grown into an international supplier after having benefited from a PUM intervention programme. The company is now supplying markets such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Local manufacturers, in liaison with the PUM representative in Zimbabwe, are eligible to apply for technical assistance.
The Netherlands government through its embassy in Harare, is one of the key partners for this initiative and will offer financial support towards operalisation of the MoU.
As part of this farm model programme, PUM organised a business link mission to the model farm owners from November 11 to 17, 2019 and the objective was to increase exports from Zimbabwe to the Netherlands and vice versa.