EU seeks more local fresh produce In his address during the launch of the “Team Europe Initiative on Greener and Climate-Smart Agriculture” yesterday, the EU delegation, led by EU Ambassador Jobst von Kirchamann, said there was growing demand for fresh produce in Europe, which Zimbabwean farmers can meet.

Elton Manguwo and Precious Manomano

The engagement and re-engagement policy continues to bear fruit, with European Union (EU) member-states and Switzerland calling on Zimbabwe to export more fresh produce to the bloc.

EU member-states and Switzerland also pledged to contribute over €207 million to support the Government’s strategy for a more productive, resilient and greener agricultural sector.

The development indicates that the drive by the Second Republic to re-establish good relations with countries that had turned their backs on Zimbabwe, is paying off.

In his address during the launch of the “Team Europe Initiative on Greener and Climate-Smart Agriculture” yesterday, the EU delegation, led by EU Ambassador Jobst von Kirchamann, said there was growing demand for fresh produce in Europe, which Zimbabwean farmers can meet.

“We do want to see more fresh produce exports to the EU as farmers shift towards market and value-driven agriculture production.

“We have been working with farmers in Chipinge district by facilitating organic produce certification and export capacity building,” said Ambassador von Kirchamann.

The launch of the “Team Europe Initiative on Greener and Climate-Smart Agriculture” followed coordination at political level to ensure Zimbabwe and the EU achieve the greatest sustainable impact and transformational change in line with the country’s strategic priorities.

This comes as the Government is pacing up efforts to transform small-scale farms into production hubs for export produce to accelerate the attainment of an upper-middle income economy by 2030.

Transforming small-scale farms will also help in accelerating rural development.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, said as Zimbabwe aims to grow the export bill through various Government-led export strategies, the European market presented an opportunity that local small-scale farmers could explore for increased profitability.

The ministry is developing robust market systems that address the dictates of exports and domestic uptake.

Government is developing and revitalising horticulture-related infrastructure, including agro-processing to establish sustainable and effective funding mechanisms and to attract foreign investment in horticulture production.

The Team Europe Initiative on Greener and Climate-Smart Agriculture will also support young people and farmers through agri-business support services.

The initiative, which includes all member-states and Switzerland, will contribute over €207 million in support of the Government’s strategy for a more productive, resilient and greener agricultural sector.

Ambassador Von Kirchmann said Team Europe was committed to supporting the achievement of the shared goals to Zimbabwe.

“We have a volume of 207 million euros for Zimbabwe. There is a lot of room to improve and some member States decide to do extra funds for projects. 

“Different member States are participating in different ways. The funds are from European citizens and others are tax payers’ money. All 27 member States are participating in any initiative you are having in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Zimbabwe has already embraced climate smart agriculture and in the 2020/2021 season. launched the Presidential Climate Proof Input Scheme commonly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa.

Speaking during the meeting yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said greener and climate smart agriculture was a priority for the economy.

He welcomed Harare’s cooperation with the EU, to work together to make it a reality. 

“As you know, agriculture-led to rural industrialisation will also lead to economic development, the attainment of Vision 2030. This is also crucial for research and development,” he said.

The Team Europe Initiative on Greener and Climate-Smart Agriculture supports ongoing and upcoming interventions that look to increase “greener” and climate-smart agricultural productivity in Zimbabwe while helping vulnerable communities overcome climate-related challenges. 

Farmers will benefit directly from diverse systems that utilise crops resilient to pests, disease and drought, as well as through climate-smart practices that work to reduce their inputs while lowering emissions.

The initiative will also support young people and farmers through agri-business support services.

Launching the initiative also marks the beginning of a policy dialogue on climate-smart agricultural solutions between the Government and the Team Europe Ambassadors, who have joined forces under the Team Europe Initiative (Sweden, France, Italy, The Netherlands and The European Union, joined by Switzerland). 

The re-engagement allows all partners to exchange and mutually understand their vision and priorities. 

It will take place every three months, in order to make sure that the initiative remains fully aligned with the National Development Strategy -1. 

The launch comes after coordination at political level to ensure that Zimbabwe and the EU achieve the greatest sustainable impact and transformational change, in line with Zimbabwe strategic priorities. 

This Team Europe Initiative is a demonstration of Team Europe and Switzerland’s continued commitment to support Zimbabwe in areas of common interest. 

As Team Europe continues its long-term partnership with Zimbabwe, it will continue to explore new approaches, including loans with the European Investment Bank, AFD and other European financing institutions. 

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr John Basera, was grateful for the support saying it will help to achieve goals in climate smart agriculture.

“We appreciate the support from Europe, this is a very critical point; it’s about partnerships to achieve the goals and especially in climate smart agriculture, irrigation, rehabilitation and development as you might be aware that we have 450 irrigation schemes but maybe 20 percent of those are not functional, we also need support towards that line especially the climate-proofing of the small-holder sector. 

“We also have other irrigation equipment which is idle, we also need support on that,” he said.

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