Senior Business Reporter
PREPARATIONS for the 112th Zimbabwe Agricultural Show (ZAS) are at an advanced stage with three foreign countries having so far confirmed participation at the fair which begins at the end of the month.
This year’s show, which runs from August 29 to September 3 will be held under the theme, “Unequalled Business Opportunities: Accessibility, Accountability and Abundance”.
ZAS chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri said in an interview that“The preparations for the agricultural show are now at an advanced stage as the dates for this year’s show are August 29 to September 3.
“Most of the exhibition space is taken up and paid up for and those who have not paid up are coming through to pay.
“And obviously, being a show it’s open to international exhibitors and we are looking at a few international exhibitors coming to Harare as well. In terms of foreign countries, so far, we have got Malawi, Botswana and India.”
“The official opening will be done on a Friday and a suitable Head of State will open the show,” said Dr Matibiri without revealing the guest of honour citing professional reasons.
Last year’s event was officially opened by President Mnangagwa.
Dr Matibiri said exhibitors were already on the ground preparing their stands and were looking forward to a good show on the back of the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is the first normal show in about two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the other two shows in 2020 and 2021 were held under the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
“This year we are looking forward to a full normal show with fireworks and the usual conferences like the agricultural conference, mining and agriculture interface conference.
ZAS’ mandate is to promote agriculture and facilitate rural agricultural development in Zimbabwe. Dr Matibiri said this year’s theme was fundamentally essential for the successful and revolutionary growth of agriculture and consequently the country’s economy at large.
The agriculture sector is one of Zimbabwe’s major economic sectors and the Government has continued to roll out a number of initiatives to boost productivity in the sector.
Such initiatives include the National Enhanced Agricultural Production Scheme, Presidential climate proofed and Presidential rural horticulture and livestock programmes.
The agriculture sector has already hit the initial 2025 target of becoming a US$8,2 billion industry after the industry grew by 36,2 percent to US$8,19 billion in 2021.
In 2020, the Government launched the Agriculture and Food Systems Strategy as an integral part of the national development agenda being driven by President Mnangagwa.
The strategy is underpinned by growing the economy, ensuring Zimbabwe grows its own food and ensuring that a vast swathe of rural families moves from poverty to growing affluence with the production rises spread right across the sectors. In a separate interview, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said most of their members were prepared and raring to showcase their produce at this year’s agricultural show.
“However, because of Covid-19 where we are coming from, you would find it’s not what people wanted it to be. “Ordinarily, a lot of farmers would have come but because of the circumstances which l have alluded to farmers are coming and we are encouraging not only farmers but those that are also agro-related to support us because it’s a showcase.
“As farmers we want markets for our produce and agro-related businesses such as implement suppliers should also come in to showcase their equipment because for us we work on land and we need equipment and implements as well as inputs.
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“So, we are upbeat that the show is back on its feet because it helps us as farmers to showcase our produce,” he said.
Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Dephina Nkomo echoed similar sentiments as Dr Makombe adding that the agricultural show accords them an opportunity to demonstrate and prove their mantle in the agriculture sector as women.
“Most women farmers are into crop production, piggery and poultry production and at this year’s agriculture show, we expect the farmers to bring such produce and demonstrate before their male counterparts that there is also a force to reckon with in the agriculture sector,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said their members, through ZAS, were expected to network with various stakeholders in the agricultural industry with the primary goal of ensuring that the farmers reduce production by improving on efficiencies.
“Through the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show farmers also want to know what the market wants in terms of the commodities, quality and volumes which should then lead to farmers signing the agreements with suppliers and the market.
“There are other opportunities also for value addition. Farmers would want to see how they can value add from a technological point of view, what technologies are available,” he said.
“Now that we are coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic this is a very exciting time because farmers can now interact of course with a bit of care in terms of spreading the virus. So, the opening up of markets it’s a huge opportunity for the farmers so exploiting those markets and opportunities is at the centre of the agricultural show.”