Enhancing agribusiness partnership with smallholder farmers

Zimbabwe’s agribusiness sector is constrained by limited access to input and output markets, inadequate access to agri-credit and the poor capacity of market actors to respond to smallholder farmers’ needs remain some of the biggest constraints in the sector. It is these constraints that the nascent LFSP Programme is trying to address.

On 14 July 2015, The Palladium Group in partnership with FAO organised a half-day markets-matching fair at the Agriculture Show Ground’s Nelson Mandela Hall in Harare with the aim to foster business-oriented synergies and interactions between 84 participants drawn from private agri-businesses, Government and the LFSP consortia of INSPIRE (Improved Nutrition for Sustainable Production and Increased Resilience for Economic growth), EXTRA (Extension and Training for Rural Agriculture) and ENTERPRIZE (Ensuring Nutrition, Transforming and Empowering Rural Farmers and Promoting Resilience in Zimbabwe), representing the livelihood interests of over 120,000 smallholder households benefitting under the Programme.

The objective of the fair was to develop a shared understanding of the Programme, foster linkages among the Programme’s value-chain actors, serve as a marketing platform for private agri-businesses, showcase the various livelihood interventions being promoted and enhance a deeper understanding of the agri-business market opportunities for participants.

INSPIRE highlighted its approach to agriculture and markets with a presentation on leveraging technology and market information systems to enhance market access and improving farmer readiness to access formal financial services among other aspects of the interventions promoted in Makoni, Mutare and Mutasa Districts. ENTERPRIZE gave a presentation of their approaches to market development and nutrition enhancement approaches for small holder farmers in Guruve and Mt. Darwin Districts, while EXTRA gave a presentation of its activities in strengthening linkages between smallholder farmers and markets in addition to other facets of its interventions in Kwekwe, Gokwe South and Shurugwi Districts.

The main thrust of the fair was a clear call to Zimbabwe’s agribusiness sector to wake up and harness the partnership opportunities small holder farmers have to offer for input and output marketing of smallholder produce and to help address their constraints to productivity, market supply, strengthening agriculture business value chains and enabling innovative, entrepreneur-oriented farming that can grow to scale under the LFSP and beyond.