Heat wave: A blessing in disguise for fresh produce farmers
PRICES of leaf vegetables have witnessed a record jump with a bundle of covo rising from between US$1,50 and US$2 last week to US$6 while the price of rape and tsunga also rose from US$1,50 to US$4.
Knowledge Transfer Africa chief executive officer Dr Charles Dhewa yesterday observed that the development demonstrated the rising demand for leaf vegetables versus the low supply caused by the prevailing high temperatures that are making it difficult for fresh vegetables to retain their quality for long periods of time.
Dr Dhewa also confirmed that high temperatures experienced across the country had led to a decrease in the supply of fresh vegetables in the mass markets. It seems farmers are running short of water to augment production capacities, he added.
He went on to say tomatoes continued to dominate the market with Harare, Gweru, Nyanga, Maphisa, Hamara Farm and Beatrice serving as the key suppliers.
“A tomato sandak has dropped from between US$20 and US$25 last week to between US$12 and US$15 as of yesterday. Reaping is now being done early due to the high temperatures with supply increasing from greenhouses,” he explained.
Dr Dhewa said it was crucial for stakeholders to collaborate and develop long-term strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Investing in sustainable irrigation systems, promoting crop diversification and raising awareness about climate adaptation techniques can help build resilience and reduce vulnerability to effects of climate change, he observed.
He said mass markets needed to recognise, support and protect the fiscus despite their being a major driver of employment directly and indirectly.
Dr Dhewa added: “Many value chain actors such as transporters also benefit from the markets, which means it fuels the growth of the transport sector. Mass markets continue to give us very good signals in terms of food security, nutrition and food diversity. In as much as we have problems of late rains, mass markets continue to play a very important role to ensure all parts of the country get food. What remains is to make sure farmers get income from all these markets because they are the producers. It does not help if we allow middlemen and other people to get more money at the expense of farmers. We need to organise district markets, local markets and everywhere else.”
He urged policymakers to work together because food diversity would count more in changing climate than focusing on individual mono-crops like wheat and maize.