By Joyce Mukucha and Anyway Yotamu
In an effort to support the agricultural sector and eradicate hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has handed over a substantial donation to the Horticulture Development Council (HDC), a parastatal which operates under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture,Water,Rural Resettlement.
The support is meant to assist the revival of a sustainable horticulture industry, small scale farmers and the host government to develop enabling business environment as well as develop robust institutions and systems to leverage on private sector investments.
FAO donated an asset of a 4×4 Toyota motor vehicle type,two laptops, 4 office chairs and 4 office drawers.
Speaking during the handover ceremony in Harare on the 13th of February 2020, FAO Sub Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Dr Alain Onibon said the initiative will go a long way in supporting the country to perform and implement all the missions that will enable more investment.
Government, he said should also deploy serious measures in as much as horticulture export is concerned to ensure a lot of benefits for the country.
He indicated that FAO was in a process of engaging the European partners to ensure that more support is extended to HDC so as to assist the operation cost.
“Institutions are critical. If we do not have right institutions that function well, we will not get desired results. Therefore, it is imperative to support institutions like HDC in the sense that they are critical in as much as the aim of attaining good results is concerned. If we succeed on increasing exports we are bringing forex to the country. We are creating jobs,” he said.
Dr Onibon added that it was also important to ensure that poor farmers are aggregated in the horticulture value chains.
“It is significant to put on board small-holder farmers which are the youths, women and the vulnerable. Our mission is to make sure that those categories of population are included in the value chains and drive some revenues from the exports. We expect HDC to perform well for the goodness of the nation and urge it to work with the Government. Government as well, should perform some enabling measures that will enable to aggregate the small holder farmers. It is our expectation that as soon as possible, the European agreement for the export sector will be developed and signed. We need to finance aggregation and we need to share risks to ensure transformation in the agricultural sector,” he said.
The HDC chairman, Gorden Makoni extended his gratitude to FAO and said the donation will enable the institution to drive its agenda of export generation, enhanced Gross Domestic Product contribution, the advocacy for safe working places and decent wages for a sustainable horticulture industry among others.
“This donation is the beginning of mutually beneficial lasting relationship between FAO and HDC. I would like to extend my profound gratitude to Dr Onibon and all staff members of FAO for this donation. We are receiving this support as part of the AgriInvest’s four strategic pillars. These are; enabling the business of agriculture, creating de risking and blended financial instruments and models, development of production and commercial infrastructure and value chain development. The support will enable us to drive the agenda towards import stabilisation to reduce the import bill and support small scale farmers,”he said.
He said HDC will remain committed to its vision of achieving a competitive, sustainable and socially inclusive horticulture sector, contributing significantly to the global and domestic market, at the same time supplying unique quality products and services.
Makoni urged other sectors to emulate such noble gesture which FAO has shown in order to help the nation to achieve Vision 2030 of becoming an upper middle economy.
“We applaud this institutional and system development approach taken by FAO, supporting industry associations within the sector. Strong institutions foster growth and transformation of the agriculture sector. I am sure support given to the HDC will go long way in resuscitating the Horticulture Industry. As the government, we promote inclusive growth and therefore urge commercial farmers to seriously consider out grower models for small-scale farmers, thus leaving no-smallholder farmer behind,” said the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Rural Resettlement, Honourable Vangelis Haritatos.
The system and institutional development approach, he said, should continue and be applied to all key value chain elements like financing and marketing.
In November 2019, Hon Haritatos officially launched the AgriInvest initiative in Zimbabwe, a regional programme meant to support a host of governments to develop enabling business environment for private sector investments in the agricultural sector.