Faced with chronic unemployment, many Harare residents are using their backyards to begin small-scale farming.
Though many manage to produce a decent yield that feeds their families, taking their products to market and generating income remains a struggle. One such farmer, Tendai Mujati, who produces broilers and quail birds said, “I can’t get a steady market for my produce. Most of the time I end up selling from my car boot at Highfields shopping centre.” This process takes up time that could be better used in production if a retailer were to buy from him regularly in bulk.
When contacted for comment, The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) explained that there are good markets within the local retail industry.“Markets are available, but they need strategic penetration and organised production. Currently local retail markets readily take up local produce from farmers,” says ZFU Youth and Livelihoods Coordinator, Newton Garikayi Chari.
Chari explains that markets require continuity in supply and advises farmers to work with other producers to ensure a steady and adequate supply to retailers. “This is a win-win situation as retail markets won’t incur transit costs and damage to the products. However, only good quality products are eligible,” said Chari.
He added that farmers need to approach potential markets with a good business plan and favourable trading conditions. “Formal retail markets are not the only available markets. Farmers markets are also an option,” he said.
Another working method is using social media to market farm produce. For example, there is a Facebook group called Farming Business Opportunities in Zimbabwe (FBOZ) where different farmers advertise the produce they have to a number of possible buyers. Buyers also share posts indicating what they need and those who have the product in question can contact them. The same group is also used by different service providers and input traders, creating a good network of different stakeholders. Currently, it has over seventeen thousand members who are all involved in farming.
FBOZ member Taurai Gurumbiri said, “Through buyers I met in this group I have generated a steady market that buys my produce at competitive prices.” Gurumbira produces horticulture and poultry products in Hatcliffe.
Other farmers also make use of different farmers markets in the city, such as Mbare Musika, Machipisa, and the weekly Upmarket in Belgravia.
As for laws governing trade, Chari said, “There are no licenses or health certificates needed. But just like any other farming sector you have to observe sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that protect plant, animal and human health.”
Image: Growing lettuce in your backyard for profit.