ZimTrade has engaged Dutch national Hans Van Leeuwen, a senior onion expert with over 45 years experience in the production of the vegetable, to provide expert advice to local growers. The engagement is part of the projects’ activities stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between ZimTrade and PUM Netherlands in April 2016, where PUM shall provide technical interventions as well as expert advice to small and medium scale farmers in the horticultural sector.The interventions are aimed at enhancing productivity and export competitiveness through on-farm training.
The expert, who is currently in Zimbabwe, is exploring and assessing onion production, with the aim of introducing a pool system. A pool system is common practice in the Dutch agriculture system, whereby growers will bring in their produce together.
The produce is graded and stored in a warehouse and will be sold during off season periods when they fetch premium prices. According to the expert, the critical points in this pool concept is to maintain a good onion quality in and off season.
The idea is to set up three onion pools of 800-1 000 tonnes of produce per annum across the country. Members of the pool can sell part of their harvest directly on the market and deliver the rest to the warehouse pool, where it is graded and stocked in crates.
Vice President of the Horticulture Marketers Association Godwin Mushore, said the consumption of onions in Zimbabwe is around 15 000-20 000 tonnes per year, with local production around 7 000 tonnes.
He, however, pointed that most growers in Zimbabwe do not have the appropriate knowledge as well facilities to store their crop for commercial purposes.
“These interventions could assist local growers to boost their production and being able to consistently supply both the local and export market,” he added.