By Adeva Machiso Gwenzi
On the 14th of February 2020, the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union, (ZFU) hosted a stakeholder consultative meeting to share and validate the results of the stakeholder satisfaction survey carried out by the Union in 2018/19 and presentation of the Union’s strategic plan.
The meeting was attended by representatives from development agents, private sector, seed houses, farmer associations, agro-chemical suppliers as well as the media.
Speaking at event, ZFU President, Mr A.C Nyathi expressed his gratitude for the stakeholder support the Union enjoys and encouraged delegates to be free to express their views and give recommendations on how best the Union can make impact and positive change in the agricultural sector.
“It is my great pleasure and honour to welcome you all to this important stakeholder engagement meeting. Let me express my heartfelt appreciation to all present for finding time from your various commitments to attend this meeting. Your experience and advice, are all vital to this meeting,” said Mr Nyathi.
“Ladies and gentleman, ZFU’s strategic plan (2018-2022) has strong emphasis on meeting stakeholder expectations thus the Union has organised this day to get your constructive criticism, honest talk, open views and recommendations,” he added.
The meeting also saw the presentation of the ZFU stakeholder satisfactory survey report for further input and stakeholder validation.
In his presentation of the survey report, ZFU Chief Economist, Mr Prince Kuipa highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Union as per the survey conducted as well as recommendations given by the different stakeholders.
“The survey noted that, ZFU has limited visibility and that it has weak linkages with stakeholders in programming,” he said
“The many years of existence ZFU has in the agricultural sector, 79 years to be precise, was seen to be a strength especially because of the experience and lessons learnt it has to offer to the sector. Representation structures at village, ward, district province and national levels. (Commodity Associations, Youth, women) was also considered to be one of the strengths the Union possesses,” he added.
Some of the recommendations given by the stakeholders to ZFU, include issues to do with, improving its information and communication strategies and mediums, financial resource mobilization as well as building partnerships with stakeholders for better delivery of agricultural services.
Agriseeds Sales and Marketing Director, Mr Ivan Craig however threw the ball back to stakeholders encouraging them to always have ZFU in mind in their programming.
“Private sector, development partners and all stakeholders involved in agricultural value chains should include ZFU in their projects in order to reach out to more smallholder farmers because when you look at it, 95% of smallholder farmers are members of ZFU,” said Ivan Craig.
In terms of revenue generation, it was suggested that ZFU should revive its Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) so that the Union becomes self-sufficient.
“Let us work on having a farmer managed savings account with proper accountability systems,” said Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Livelihoods Project Coordinator, Mrs Beauty Razemba.
Mrs Zitsanza from the Agricultural Marketing Authority emphasised on farmer organisation as this could help in creating market opportunities.
“We encourage ZFU to continually mobilize farmers to work in groups as this can create effective marketing opportunities," said Mrs Zitsanza.
Dr Mano from Livestock Meat and Advisory Council (LMAC) commended ZFU for organising such an event which he perceived to be one of the strategies that could improve the agricultural sector.
“We would like to commend ZFU for bringing together agribusiness players to discuss how to make positive impact in the various agric-value chains," said Dr Mano.