THE Dutch embassy has urged government to ensure transparency and policy consistency, especially on land to encourage more local small-scale farmers to venture into horticulture farming.

Speaking at a media briefing in the capital yesterday, Dutch ambassador to Zimbabwe, Barbara Van Hellemond said government should introduce more security on 99-year land leases.

“We will keep pushing the Zimbabwean government for progress on the 99-year bankable leases, a new land governance policy and respect of property rights in all of Zimbabwe.”

Hellemond encouraged the government to create a politically and economically conducive environment to fully revive the agricultural sector to its fullest potential.

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She added that the fair practice of transparent making and execution of these policies will attract Dutch investors in the future.

In a joint statement, Zimtrade and PUM also said the horticulture project will be replicated all over the country.

“The role of the Zimbabwean government is to assure consistent policymaking and transparency execution of policies so that the initiative will come to life. It is important that government supports and makes sure that the farmers will know that they own the land.”

“The project, which will be replicated in other provinces across the country is designed to improve market access for small-scale farmers to grow their contribution towards export earnings,”

‘‘The MoU will cover collaboration on infrastructure, improvement on identified farms, technical skills development, logistics management and market development,” the statement read.

It will also cover the diversification of horticulture export products. The Netherlands government will spearhead and finance the project.

The two companies said under the four-year pilot project, three model farms will be capacitated to onboard small-scale farmers as their out-growers.

Netherlands is highly dependent on horticulture and has reduced the use of water by 90% and it has almost stopped the use of pesticides in its greenhouses.

Despite the country being 10% the size of Zimbabwe, Netherlands is the second biggest exporter after United States and it exports 65 billion Euros worth of vegetables, fruits, flowers, meat and dairy products each year.

It is estimated that 10% of its GDP is generated from agriculture.

Dutch organisation, PUM has organised business linkages for local and Dutch farmers in a bid to increase exports from Zimbabwe to the Netherlands.