By Farai Matiashe

SELF-HELP Development Foundation (SHDF), a local non-governmental organisation, has become an oasis of hope for small-scale farmers in Buhera, who have been struggling to access markets for their produce.

While most smallholder farmers have managed to produce more from their land, getting markets for their commodities has been a challenge in recent years.

Many have lost potential revenue to middlemen who take advantage of their desperation to pay very low prices, making agriculture an unprofitable venture for many farmers.

It is against this background that the SHDF recently held a value chain development forum at Murambinda Growth Point, which was aimed at enhancing and strengthening enterprises,
business relationships, improving market structures and the entire business environment.

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The meeting was attended by local business community, farmers, government ministries, the financial sector and environmentalists.

Various value chain players were also invited from both the local business community and those coming from outside Buhera district.

SHDF director Wadzanayi Vere said the value chain development forum stemmed from challenges of markets that were cited by farmers in various value chains.

“The platform was aimed at enhancing and strengthening enterprises, business relationships, improving market structures and the business environment,” she said.

Vere said the objective of the activity was to create a platform for producers and service providers, private sector and government ministries in Buhera to establish synergies in the whole value chain process.

“The meeting also sought to improve women and youths’ access to affordable finance and formal institution as well as to strengthen business relations,” she added.

Women Affairs ministry business development officer in the department of small and medium enterprise development, Lovemore Mubayiwa, said the SHDF project had assisted in promoting
honey, grain, livestock and the crafting of value chains.

“This is done by funding interface platforms where players in value chains meet for discussions and facilitate linkages within value chains,” he said.

Mubayiwa said the project would go a long way in bridging the market gap which is responsible for disadvantaging rural communities.

“SHDF is also facilitating the mobility of government officials as they seek to offer services to communities like in the formation of associations, farming as a businesses and contract
farming, which are critical to value chain development,” he said.

In addition to that, Vere said synergies between the private and public sector players along key value chains would be convened at district level to interrogate opportunities to enhance
the efficiencies along the value chain and secure commitment from the various actors.