By Tatenda Mujeyi
Zimbabwe is an agriculture-based economy and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) should venture into agro processing so as to increase their markets, a senior government official said in Harare today.
“17 % of the GDP of Zimbabwe according to FAO is agro based. As such, there is need to complement this with agro processing as completing the value chain will realize more value for our agricultural produce,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Ambassador Rudo Chitiga said.
She said the issue of quality is as an important consideration for SMEs as they are central actors in the export market.
“Quality remains key in unlocking avenues in the export market. There are great potential revenues for SMEs to explore in the agro processing business through drying, salting and other preservation methods. However, the quality of the conditions under which the processing is done is expected to meet international quality,” Knowledge Transfer Africa Chief Executive Officer, Charles Dhewa said.
The meeting also explored the various markets regionally and internationally that SMEs need to be aware of so as to potentially broaden their supply trends.
“There is need for SMEs to generate an understanding of the regional and international market’s expectations on their products. There is a great appetite for products from Zimbabwe owing to their non GMO quality. We urge SMEs to come through our offices and access information,” Dhewa said.
He said the land reform had opened gateways for locals to explore the agro-processing sector so as to fully contribute to the economy.
“The land reform has been a major contributor to SMEs relevance in the agro processing unit. Daily, the local producers are bringing many tonnes of potatoes to Mbare Musika and the contributions of the local farmers cannot be undermined. They however need to be complimented,” Mr Dhewa said.
There were calls for the SMEs to acquire trade certification for them to meet the required standards internationally.
“There is need for SME’s to acquire trade certification for agro processors to fully realise maximum market potential. The export market requires trade certification that at ZIMTRADE we are always eager to help you through. We have knowledge on the required expectations and urge you to be part of us and learn from the experience,” ZIMTRADE Director of Operations Phillip Phiri said.