A new initiative has been set up to interrogate challenges faced by smallholder farmers in different parts of the country as part of efforts to assist in transforming the sector into a viable business venture through increased productivity and incomes.
The initiative is the brainchild of Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) in collaboration with Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD).
Speaking on the side-lines of a multi-stakeholder dialogue meeting on market access for smallholder farmers and informal traders, in Bulawayo, Tuesday, VISET programs manager, Gillian Chinzete said they are trying to address challenges faced by informal traders when it comes to accessing markets.
“We are beginning a platform for traders and smallholder farmers, we are trying to bring together people from the different sectors of the economy from Gokwe, Goromonzi, Matobo, Chipinge, Binga, and Bulawayo. We are trying to have a conversation around issues of market access and we are trying to hear challenges they are facing with regards to accessing markets,” said Chinzete.
“We are trying to deliberate on the challenges they are facing, the policy framework that is currently in place, and some of the possible interventions that we as an association can engage in and engage the Government so that we try to address those challenges.”
She said they are trying to create platforms for them to share information and link with various people in the sector.
“As an organization, we are going to compile a policy brief which we are going to compile and share with key stakeholders so that they can consider that in their future programming and definitely, we are going to come up with an advocacy strategy to say based on the challenges that these people are facing for example poor road network, limited access to vending stalls, poor market linkages, what is it that we can do as we try to address the challenges step by step as we try to works towards having an economy that is sensitive to the realities of the people,” said Chinzete.
Meanwhile, village head for Mimbo Siansundu, Binga, Mudimba Belshadzzar said informal traders in Binga are facing various challenges as they are still doing barter trade.
“We have a lot of challenges that we face, we have small trader farmers specializing with fish, the fishermen don’t have a readily available market, they exchange their produce at barter exchange like what used to happen long back, people come mainly from Bulawayo, either they come with a 2kg sugar in exchange of fish,” said Belshadzaar.
He added that vendors selling dried fish are also facing exorbitant licensing fees.
“When it comes to dried fish, for us to sell in Bulawayo they want a licence, and Binga Rural Council and ZimParks all want a licence, at the end of the day we are working for nothing,” he said.
In addition, Decent Dube from Matobo said informal traders in Matobo often clash with those who do not want to pay for their licenses.
“This is affecting the source of income and causing misunderstanding between the vendors and the authorities, it seems there is no resolution that has been brought to book,” said Dube.
He said the other crisis that vendors are facing is the issue of designated selling points which are far away from the targeted markets.