Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers are feeling the heat of the influx of cheap imported vegetables which have the potential to drive them out of business, it has been learnt.
A cluster leader of the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum, Blessing Chikove told Business Times that the playing field was not even.
He said the situation was dire for local farmers who are battling stiff competition from vendors who are importing cheap vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and onions from neighbouring South Africa for reselling in local markets.
“The markets are flooded with imported vegetables and it’s making it difficult for small holder farmers to sell their produce. Vendors who are bringing in vegetables from South Africa are charging far less than small holders therefore making it difficult for us to make profits,” Chikove said, adding that local authorities and government should separate markets for organic farming products and those that are in conventional farming that uses chemicals.
He said they are also facing challenges of being abused by middle men who take away all their goods and sell on their behalf.
Chikove said the inputs that some farmers in Mutoko are receiving from the government are not meant for the area and this has resulted in some farmers not yielding any results.
“Mutoko is in Region 4 which is a low rainfall area and some inputs that farmers are receiving are not meant for the region.
“Government through Agricultural Extension Officers should do consultations so that they distribute inputs that are best suited for the region,” he said.
Chikove said farmers were also not happy with the lack of proper facilities at market places such as Mbare Musika where most farmers from Mutoko sell their produce.
He said some small holder farmers also face challenges of transporting their goods. Some spend three days waiting for transport and this has resulted in some produce getting rotten before reaching the markets.
The association has four clusters across the country and each cluster is made up of small holder farmers formed by households within a region.
The organisation is also a member of the East and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers Forum.