THE United Kingdom under its Trade Partnerships (UKTP) programme last week moved to equip horticultural farmers with digital tools to bolster their capacity to export.
The horticulture sector has recently been a major focus for both financial and technical capacitation in Zimbabwe, where government has placed agriculture among sectors to drive economic recovery.
Last month, government launched a US$30 million horticulture facility to boost exports.
The Horticulture Export Revolving Fund would be funded through the US$1 billion special drawing rights facility released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year.
The facility was part of a US$650 billion injection released by the IMF to help economies recover from COVID-19 lockdowns.
Last week’s programme was also meant to give farmers critical information for exports to the UK and European Union (EU) markets.
A total of 27 lead firms and smallholder farmers took place in the programme, which saw farmers being acquainted with a new traceability software and application.
The training was conducted by a German company, SAP SE Rural Sourcing Management, which produces software solutions for facilitating effective data processing and information flow across organisations.
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The UKTP programme is being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK.
ITC national co-ordinator Grace Musarurwa told NewsDay Farming on the sidelines of the three-day workshop that the training contributes to smallholder farmers’ global visibility.
Musarurwa said the training was also important for them to understand global supply chains.
“In implementing the project, UKTP Programme applied Alliances for Action (A4A), a methodology was developed by ITC,” she said.
“It has so far facilitated mutually beneficial linkages, not only between the exporter and smallholder farmers, but has also linked other stakeholders like financial institutions, input suppliers, export agencies, certification bodies and other into the alliance.
“Linkages with smallholder farmers help the exporter to grow volumes for export.”
Musarurwa added that the adoption of the software also gives export markets confidence in purchasing products produced by lead firms and smallholder farmers under UKTP Zimbabwe.
“Traceability software provides international markets with accurate information not only of the country of origin but can identify the specific smallholder farmers, producer of the crop and the conditions under which the product was produced,” she said.
“It also ensures a shared vision with real-time, synchronised data, boosts the bottom line with increased productivity, helps operational planning along the crop life cycle, helps with decision support for farm-field activities and aids assessment of performance with reports and dashboards.”
Zimbabwe exports a variety of horticultural products to the UK and EU markets.
These include flowers and peas.
Farmers said the traceability software would help them maintain the identity of the product by the producer.
“The software is going to add value to my business by tracking products from the land right through the supply chain to the markets,” said Stanley Herry who majors in the production of peas for export to the UK and EU markets.