WASAA Agribusiness Scheme Targets Job Creation

SAM_0296By Anthony Jongwe

An innovative agribusiness scheme recently launched in Harare aims at creating several jobs among women and youth across the country. The sweet potato growing scheme launched in partnership by SimFresh International and Women in Agribusiness Sub-Saharan Africa Alliance (WASAA) focuses on valueadding entrepreneurship and job creation among small-scale and emerging farmers in the country. Agriculture plays a key role in Zimbabwe’s macro-economy. Based on past performance, the sector has the potential to contribute 12–18 percent of gross domestic product. It is capable of generating about 60 percent of the foreign exchange earnings through exports of tobacco, cotton,
beef and horticultural crops. Production agriculture could consume up to US$2 billion worth of agricultural inputs (fertilisers, chemicals, fuel, and machinery) and services (consultants, financial and advisers) annually. Through backward and forward

linkages with the non-agriculture sector,SAM_0234 agriculture employs close to 40 percent
of those in formal employment. Significantly, 60–70 percent of the
country’s 12.5 million people reside in the rural and farming areas where they
are directly dependent on agriculture for food security, most of their family cash income and employment. A prominent agricultural economist Godfrey Mudimu notes: ‘A sustained expansion of the national economy requires sustained growth in the agricultural sector’. Yet the agriculture sector is currently facing a number of challenges chief of which is inadequate and limited financing for seasonal, medium- and longterm finance. This, coupled with a shortage of electricity, has
contributed to agro-processing firms operating below capacity, resulting in low productivity and little investment in improved technologies and production infrastructure on farms. Consequently, the country has become a net importer of finished agricultural products such as milk, processed flour, maize meal, fruits and vegetables. Given the past SAM_0232performance of the agriculture sector, there is potential or scope to increase
outputs of the various agricultural commodities and export the surplus to external markets in the SADC region and beyond. Building and maintaining a competitive agriculture sector
requires constantly reviewing and strengthening market infrastructure services that foster competitiveness in the overall agricultural sector in Zimbabwe. Market institutional infrastructure needed to smoothen market functions include both financial and non-financial institutional infrastructure— commercial rules and regulations such as property rights, contract enforcement, regulatory mechanism for anticompetitive behaviour, vertically integrated schemes, market information systems, market coordination through commodity exchanges and warehouse receipt systems, and producer and trader associations. Financial market infrastructure comprises all institutions, information, technologies, rules and standards that enable financial intermediation such as insurance,
credit information or clearance bureaus, credit guarantee schemes, etc. These are SAM_0300requisite market institutional infrastructure that will facilitate a competitive
environment which would foster investment (by farmers, agribusiness sector and external/
foreign investors) and growth of the agricultural economy. It is in this context that SimFresh and WASAA have joined forces in improving the overall competitiveness of Zimbabwe’s agriculture through valueaddition. According to Morestaff Chibanda, the chief executive officer of SimFresh, the company’s vision is to see an increase in the number of viable, vibrant and sustainable commercial small scale and emerging farms in Africa participating on global world markets. On the other hand, the company’s mission revolves
around facing the challenges of food insecurity, unemployment, poverty eradication and entrepreneurship in the country and within SADC through an integrated approach for skills development through mentoring and active participation. The business concept of the company is anchored on a holistic and integrated approach to small scale and emerging farmer development through smart partnership with various local experts and stakeholders.

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