ITC Launches Programme To Assist Smallholder Farmers Access Global Markets

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THE International Trade Center (ITC) on Thursday launched the United Kingdom Trade Partnerships (UKTP) Programme in Zimbabwe to assist at least 600 local farmers and producers access global markets.

The UKTP Programme assists farmers and producers suffering from trade disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic by unlocking the potential of Economic Partnership Agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Zimbabwe in October ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement with the UK, which enables its exporters to continue enjoying tariff and quota-free access to the UK market.

The UKTP was working with the horticultural sector in Zimbabwe because of its high potential for employment creation and export generation through production of a wide range of crops including vegetables, fruits and flowers, a statement from the ITC said.

“Horticulture is a top priority for the Zimbabwean government. Growing this sector has benefits for the economy as a whole. UKTP aims to boost the production and export capacity of at least 600 smallholder farmers to create jobs, enhance export competitiveness and to avert poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

“In addition, ITC will work with trade support organizations and government agencies to help businesses access market opportunities through online trade intelligence tools and public-private dialogue,” the statement said.

ITC is a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations and assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets.

Launching the program, ITC executive director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said her organisation would help Zimbabwe build resilience towards shocks as the one caused by Covid-19.

“The unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown measures have resulted in supply-side disruptions and a decline in demand across all value chains in the Zimbabwean economy,” she said.

“Women and youth owned enterprises have been hit the hardest. The International Trade Centre, through UKTP, is working to help build the country’s resilience to shocks such as this one. Together with our partners, our efforts will help raise employment and increase incomes through value-addition, high quality products and strong market linkages,” she said.

UK’s director of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Tom Hill said his government was happy to have supported the programme.

“We’re proud to support Zimbabwean businesses to boost exports and create jobs through the UK Trade Partnerships Programme that was launched. Good news especially for Zimbabwe’s horticultural sector, and for smallholder farmers who are being linked to global markets,” said Hill.

The launch was attended by government officials, international organizations, the private sector, farmers associations and smallholder farmers.