By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE National Trade Development and Promotion Organisation of Zimbabwe, (Zimtrade) has embarked on an horticulture export awareness programme for Matebeleland farmers.
As part of the programme, Zimtrade on Friday held an export awareness seminar for farmers in the region.
Speaking during the workshop, Zimtrade client advisor Tawanda Chiware said there are a lot of untapped horticulture export markets for Matebeleland farmers on both the regional and global markets.
“The export awareness seminar was targeting horticulture farmers in Matebeleland Region. The idea was to concientise farmers in the region to understand the export requirements in terms of certification, food services standards and identify crops which farmers can grow that we can target for export in future,” said Chiware.
He said initially, 40 farmers were targeted for the awareness programme, but the meeting was oversubscribed.
“We have 70 participants. We were targeting 40 farmers but fortunately after we placed an advert we had an overwhelming attendance of about 70 participants,” said Chiware.
Speaking at the workshop, Global Gap Farm Assurer Clarence Mwale explained that before any export to the international markets, all export produce needs to be certified by global bodies.
“In other words, the farmer intending to export will have his/her farming process go through inspection by specific certification bodies. These tests are annual and will cover worker health, safety and welfare issues.
“It is only after the inspectors are satisfied that you can be certified. One of the minimum requirements is Global Gap Trademark and a set of standards for good agricultural practices (G.AP),” explained Mwale.
An agronomist, Leo Maphosa advised farmers in the region to grow crops such as cucumber, egg plant, watermelon, butternut, sweet pepper among other horticulture crops.
Chiware said as a follow up to the export awareness seminar, Zimtrade will conduct follow up visits to the individual farmers.
“We are going to engage more with the farmers. We are going to be visiting their farms on a case by case basis and see how we can assist them,” Chiware.
The farmers complained about the absence of cheap money on the market to finance export farming.