Respond to smallholder farmers’ needs — Zhanda Deputy Minister Zhanda

Deputy Minister Zhanda

Tafadzwa Ndlovu Herald Reporter
A senior Government official has criticised farmers’ unions for failing to reach out to communal producers who are playing an important role in enhancing the country’s food security.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Responsible for Livestock Paddy Zhanda said farmer groupings were not fully responding to the needs of smallholder farmers.

“We want farmers’ representatives to carry out their duties through providing appropriate training programmes, organising crop production, marketing as well as lobbying for and negotiating conducive and favourable agricultural polices to benefit farmers,” he said in an interview.

“Our communal farmers need to be skilled and understand how to mitigate post-harvest losses because with proper knowledge they can be guaranteed of food security and that can benefit the country.

“These farmers’ unions are not even coming to the Government to represent some farmers but are only concerned with subscriptions.”
He said vibrant farmers’ organisations would influence agricultural policy and practices. With the right support, Deputy Minister Zhanda said, smallholder farmers could increase their productivity, profitability and sustainability.

“Farmers too, must be self-reliant, find ways to generate income and feed their families,” he added.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union vice president Mr Berean Mukwende said they were doing their best to assist farmers.

“Some members are no longer paying their subscriptions so what we are simply doing is helping them to improve our agricultural sector. We do not have enough money or resources but we are doing what we can,” he said.

Smallholders form the backbone of food security across much of Africa. Agricultural experts say they have the potential to feed the nation. However, governments and farmers’ unions are often accused of being unresponsive to the needs of smallholders.

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