By Adeva Machiso Gwenzi.
In an effort to elevate young farmers from subsistence farming to farming as a business, the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union in partnership with the First Capital Bank and the UNDP through its Inclusive Growth and Livelihood project being implemented by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises held a young farmers’ Market Fair in Mutare on the 26th of June 2019.
The young farmers’ market fair was the first of its kind to be held in the eastern parts of the country. 140 participants drawn from farmers, buyers, input suppliers, government officials and Agriculture Extension Officers gathered at the Utopia lodge at what proved to be a vital business networking platform for farmers and stakeholders.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Manicaland, Honourable Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba who officiated at the event was impressed by the effort and work being done by young farmers.
“This is a very good initiative. The work being done by our youngsters in agriculture is very commendable and I wish most of those youths roaming the streets complaining about unemployment could learn from these young people exhibiting today,” said Honourable Dr Gwaradzimba.
The exhibitions included, horticulture produce, grains, value added products, agricultural innovations.
The young farmers exhibitions were also judged by a team of experts from Agriculture Extension Officers and buyers who were particularly looking at the issues to do with branding, marketing skills, value additions and innovations and wild fruits.
The first prize was awarded to one exceptional young farmer from Marondera, Brighton Chomurema who has mastered the art of branding.
Brighton sells nicely packaged horticulture products so as to attract customers.
“Through the various trainings I have attended organised by ZFU, I have come to realise that branding is an important aspect in our farming business because it helps people make informed choices on whether to buy your products or not. Ever since I started nicely packaging my products, I am more confident now than before to showcase my work and even approach the bigger markets,” said Brighton.
Brighton supplies his produce to HopeFay Hotel Marondera, BrandsFresh, Peter House College and Ruzawi School.
Another winner was a young Banana farmer, Brighton Nezomba from Honde valley. Honde Valley is a place known to be flooding with Bananas. With the market always being flooded with fresh bananas, it was difficult for Mr Nezomba to sell and make huge profits thus he decided to value add and sell banana by products.
Brighton Nezomba dries bananas and grinds them into powder to make banana flour. The banana flour can be used in baking as well as making porridge for infants. He also makes poultry feed from banana peels which he says is still under research and fibre from banana trunks.
Young farmers expressed gratitude to ZFU and partners for organising such a platform that gave them an opportunity to interact with fellow young farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.
“I personally would like to thank the organisers for such a memorable event which has shown young farmers another version of the agricultural industry which we might have been overlooking, We learnt a lot of aspects on how we can market and value add our produce to meet quality standards that can lure customers. We also had an opportunity to interact with stakeholders within the agricultural value chain,” said the recently elected Manicaland Province ZFU Youth Wing chairperson, Leeward Mandabva.