One hundred agro-dealers in the Midlands province are set to benefit from a training programme spearheaded by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) in collaboration with African Centre for Fertiliser Development (ACFD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.
The programme is part of the regional economic community’s initiative to increase agricultural production and improve farmer access to inputs and markets.
ACFD managing director Samuel Muchena said the programme, officially launched last year, would boost production and incomes for over 85 000 rural small-holder farmers.
“Agro-dealers will be trained in business skills, safe handling and use of modern technology at the same time they will be linked to suppliers of agro-products such as seed and fertilisers,” said Muchena.
“In essence, the thrust of the training aims at increasing the ability of the agro-dealer to serve farmers.”
Agricultural economist Midway Bhunu said it was important to build the capacity of small-scale, entrepreneurial agro-dealers as they play an important role in linking farmers to inputs and commodity markets.
“Such that they can provide improved technical advisory services to the farmer, the project is helping agro-dealers develop, implement strategic marketing campaigns and participate in cost effective decision-making leading to reduced transportation costs and more profit for the farmer,” he said.
Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company technical advisor Themba Pilime said agro-dealers should be harnessed as a conduit of information to farmers on latest technologies, seeds, and fertilisers.
“Agro-dealers are a vital component in the chain of production for farmers they make a difference between profits/loss, high yields and low yields,” he said.
Women in Agri-business in Sub Sahara Africa Chapter president, Theresa Mazoyo, said the move by Comesa would also address social inequality in rural communities by improving the status of women.
“It is a fact that women constitute the majority of labour force and service providers in the agricultural sector, hence our organisation views this initiative as a positive step toward women empowerment in the region,” said Mazoyo.