Scoping and planning exercises are underway between trade promotion body ZimTrade and Dutch senior expert consultancy PUM to establish model farms in Zimbabwe where best practice horticulture and shipping methods can be demonstrated.
Acting under a 2016 MoU between PUM and ZimTrade, the parties carried out a scoping exercise in August to determine how Zimbabwean fresh produce exporters can move from air to sea freight by developing local cold chain capacity. It was agreed that creating ‘Best Model Farms’ to demonstrate best practice cold chain management to local producers would be a critical first step.
Moreover, by leveraging both local and international expertise, these locations could also be used to promote best practice horticulture methods including seed selection, perfect cultivation techniques, post-harvest mechanisms, correct certifications among other topics.
Returning PUM cold chain expert Carel van Oosterzee is now joined by horticulture expert Tjaart Hofman to identify possible farms for inclusion in this initiative.
“Zimbabwe has a lot of potential and a great climate for growing crops which allows you to supply certain produce even when it is out of season in Europe. This gives us confidence that the model will be successful in Zimbabwe and we will be able to get great results from it,” said Mr. van Oosterzee.
With extensive networks and knowledge of Zimbabwe’s horticulture producers, ZimTrade is playing a facilitatory role in identifying possible locations for at least two model farms.
“We have engaged widely with established players in the horticulture sector including many out-growers who are keen to take part. Although resources are the major constraint, we are expecting to set up two model farms initially, but successful implementation will certainly lead to more farms being included to ensure nationwide impact,” said ZimTrade Acting Export Development Manager Tatenda Marume who said that the selection process is nearing completion.
“These model farms will align local practice with international standards, including the transition to sea freight which is cheaper and has less impact on the environment. We also want to improve our growing methods to make the most of our excellent climate and soils. These will allow Zimbabwe to take better advantage of the huge economic opportunity of exporting fresh produce to the EU and beyond,” said Marume.
To ensure the model farms are successful, farmers will go through capacity building and training in a range of methods and certification requirements. PUM will also assist in the setting up of infrastructure and give technical advice on logistics, cold chain management and how to ensure a good harvest.
The experts are currently undertaking visits to selected farms in Chinhoyi, Chegutu, Marondera and Gweru.