|Small holder farmers’ link to financial markets crucial|
|Tuesday, 20 December 2011 13:33|
STAKEHOLDERS in agro-farming have been encouraged to support small holder farmers by linking them to financial markets. "We will not rest till we regain Zimbabwe's ‘bread basket status'," declared Midway Bhunu a National training Co-ordinator for the COMESA Regional Agro Inputs Programme (COMRAP) at a workshop for businessmen, Agritex and banking officers in Manicaland in Nyanga recently.
Bhunu added that support to small holder farmers will help the country regain its breadbasket status.
The workshop ran under the theme 'Bringing COMESA to small holder farmers and linking small holder farmers to inputs, outputs and financial markets."
COMESA, with funding from the European Union initiated the COMRAP in eight southern and Eastern African countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe the African Centre for fertilizer Development (ACFD) is the national host organisation and training facilitator.
ACFD will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Windmill, Africa University, ZFC and GMB to strengthen the rural input distribution system which started early this year.
"The overall objective of COMESA in Agriculture is to enhance food security and rationalize agricultural production within the region of 19 member states.
"Food aid has increasingly been used in response to food shortage emergencies in Africa,'' said Mr Bhunu.
He went on to reveal that the International Fertilizer Development Centre has been contracted by COMESA to provide technical and business management assistance on the Agro dealer training programme.
Addressing the same gathering Mr Philip Gumuyu a COMRAP trainer under Zimbabwe Farmers Union said expectations of agro dealers over and above facilitation of input supply include solutions to new challenges which are climate change and viability of farming which affects the agro dealer business.
An agro dealer Mr Dhladhlara said the workshop was helpful to agro dealers as they need to improve business through correct advice to their clients and building confidence in them.
"Agro dealers need to be better informed on the safe use of crop protection products in order to correctly advise their clients on the appropriate products,"said Mr Dhladhlara.