Kudzanai Sharara in Durban, South Africa
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is working on developing linkages with regional and international markets in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) expected to boost intra-Africa trade including the trading of agricultural products.
AMA is mandated with the overall regulation of the production, marketing and processing of agricultural products in Zimbabwe.
Its mandate includes regulating participation in the production, buying or processing of any agricultural product by producers, buyers or processors or classes of producers, buyers or processors of any agricultural product.
Participants can be local and or foreign entities or individuals.
With African trade opening up through AfCFTA, it is imperative that key sectors of the Zimbabwe economy make regional forays to create markets and linkages across the continent.
The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021) currently underway in Durban, South Africa, is one such platform where linkages can be developed for future collaborations and investments.
IATF 2021 is hosting key stakeholders from the world of trade, including entrepreneurs, financiers, governments, and regulators, on one platform to deliberate on trade acceleration and investment throughout the African continent.
Over 10 000 participants from across Africa are attending with US$40 billion of trade and investment deals expected to be concluded at the event.
In his remarks at the opening of IATF, Professor Benedict O. Oramah, president and chairman of the board of directors, Afreximbank, the main sponsors of the trade fair, said the week-long event would open the African market to African businesses adding that “it will enable us to build trust among ourselves, open investment opportunities that we never knew existed and begin to foster the emergence of regional value chains.”
“It is the trade information flow that the trade fair will facilitate, that will bring down the 87 000 kilometres of borders that divide us. It is the Trade Fair that can help us to begin to reverse some of the absurdities we see today in Africa’s trade patterns whereby many African countries import from outside Africa at a much higher cost the same products a neighbouring African country exports to the world at a lower price.”
It is in that spirit that AMA is currently exhibiting at IATF with the objective of creating linkages with regional and international market players.
According to Junior Manduna, acting director agribusiness at AMA, creating linkages in regional and international markets will allow local farmers to access a wider and broader customer base across the continent.
AfCFTA provides local businesses, including players in the agricultural sector, access to an African market with a GDP of over US$2,5 trillion.
“So basically we are here to look for possible offtakers of agricultural produce as well as to network with sister agencies in other African states so that we can, even after the trade fair, be able to connect and to see areas of collaboration and to continue learning from each other,” said Manduna who is representing AMA at the trade fair.
AMA chairman Allan Majuru is also at the trade fair to network with sister agencies and potential product offtakers.
As of Wednesday, AMA had met with sister agencies from Swaziland, Malawi, Namibia and Uganda.
Manduna said after the trade fair they plan to have follow up meetings and exchange visits “so that the discussions continue”.
She said the intention is to lobby for market access especially for smallholder farmers.
On whether the country has scope and capacity to export into regional markets, Maduna said there is a lot of potential.
“In fact the main challenge that we do have as a nation is that our farmers do not have knowledge of the markets where they can send their commodities to.
“But in terms of production we have good soils, good climate as well as good expertise,but what is probably not there is marketing information and requirements otherwise there is huge potential to export into the region.”
Maduna said AMA is also researching areas of value addition and is currently working on projects where small processors can be stationed at the farm so as to aggregate commodities from nearby farms for on the farm processing.
“This will address issues around post harvest losses.
She said while the project is still at the inception stage, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are already onboard as partners.
Funding is expected to come from the United Arab Emirates.
“So with that we are hoping we will have processing equipment