Zimbabwe: From Little Things, Big Things Grow

(File photo).

Smallholder farmers in Mashonaland East Province are working hard to harvest sugar snap and mange tout peas for export. The United Kingdom Trade Partnerships (UKTP) Programme in Zimbabwe is assisting 23 smallholder farmers from the Nyamakaira Irrigation Scheme in Macheke District. Fifteen have started to export peas to markets in the United Kingdom, France and Germany through Citycircle Pvt Ltd, the Lead Firm they are linked to under the project.

More than half of the exporters are women. And harvesting will continue throughout the winter months. By the end of the season, the smallholder farmers are expected to export over 15,000 kgs of peas worth about US$8,000, bringing an estimated profit of US$530 per farmer.

Exporting the winter crop is providing a positive outlook for the horticulture export sector in Zimbabwe. The lead firm has provided technical and inputs support to the Nyamakaira Irrigation Scheme farmers. The lead firm is looking forward to increasing the number of farmers that it can work with should more markets be identified. As Zimbabwe is now moving into the summer cropping season, the smallholder farmers are already preparing to plant fine beans.

The UKTP Programme is providing access to finance and practical training using demonstration farming plots. The programme will also support the farmers with a traceability system and certification in international standards. The traceability system will connect farmers to the international agricultural value chain and offers full transparency of how the product is handled from field to fork, boosting the confidence of local producers and the global marketplace.

The Chairman of the Nyamakira Irrigration Scheme, Tambu Mutina, noted the positive outlook for the sector: "All the growers from the first planting have started harvesting. However, some are now in full production whilst others are starting to fly pick their crop. Growers were very happy with the quality of their crop."

UKTP Programme has applied the Alliances for Action (A4A) methodology in implementing the project. Within the context of the A4A methodology, the project adopted the exporter/Lead Firm- Smallholder Farmers alliances model. This model has facilitated mutually beneficial linkages between lead firms and smallholder farmers. While linkages with smallholder farmers helps the lead firm to grow its volumes for export, the lead firm in turn acts as anchor farms, aggregators, financiers, logistics service providers or as channels to export markets among other things for smallholder farmers. The model presents several advantages. The lead firms can compete successfully in end markets, especially export markets. They have the potential to influence other lead firms and actors in the value chain. They have an acceptable track record and reputation as business entities and can grow smallholder farmers into viable and sustainable businesses.

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