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The political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium has recently produced a series of papers on the political economy of agricultural commercialisation. The paper on Zimbabwe by Toendepi Shonhe argues that “debates on Zimbabwe’s agricultural development have centred on different framings of agricultural viability and land redistribution, which are often antagonistic”. Yet, agricultural commercialisation pathways are “complex and differentiated” across the country.

As discussed a few weeks ago in relation to the thorny concept of ‘viability’, normative–political constructions of farming are at the centre of the debate about agricultural commercialisation pathways, with some arguing that ‘good’, ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’ farming can only be large-scale farms, while others that ‘justice’, ‘poverty reduction’ and ‘equity’ ae best achieved through smallholder agriculture.

The paper – and associated policy brief– explore how these contrasting debates have played out in Zimbabwe over time, and what interests are aligned with different positions. Focusing on the post-2000 period after land reform, the research examines shifts in production and commodity marketing, showing how these have had an impact on commercialisation patterns. This in turn helps to reveal how power, state practice, and capital all influence accumulation for different groups of farmers.

These are the key messages from the briefing:

  • A new agrarian structure, and better access to agricultural financing, are shaping commercialisation patterns in Zimbabwe (although with the current economic crisis, this is again more challenging).
  • New, non-bank financing options are driving the production of food and cash crops in all farming sectors of Zimbabwe. These options include government-mediated command agriculture, independent contract farming and joint ventures.
  • Government support to the agricultural sector has changed over time, primarily as a result of shifting ideologies, and changing state capacity to finance the agricultural sector.
  • Both farmers and the government agree on the need for agricultural commercialisation, though often for different reasons. With links to global markets, cash crops are the main drivers of commercialisation.
  • Political patronage plays a significant role in determining agricultural policy, rendering ordinary farmers disillusioned with the political system, and resigned to merely ‘jump through hoops’ to make a living.
  • Political struggles over the control of the state and its limited resources revolve around land and agriculture as they have always in Zimbabwe, but now with greater confusion and uncertainty.

The on-going work in Mvurwi area shows how, “there is a disconnect between the day-to-day practices of local people trying to negotiate livelihoods by producing and selling crops, and the wider political machinations of Zimbabwe’s fraught political economy”, the paper argues. Patronage politics, subsidy regimes and selective state support certainly support certain elites, most people, the paper shows, must get on with life and engage in business in what is a highly uncertain, often risky context.

As the research shows, the insertion of contract farming and command agriculture support into the agricultural economy is profoundly shaping the directions of pathways of commercialisation, and the opportunities these offer to different people. But contracts and command subsidies are not available to everyone. For many smallholders, the paper notes “Zimbabwe’s wider political economy is irrelevant, and subsidy and support regimes are more symbolic than having any tangible effect”.

A combination of diminished state capacity in rural areas and because the reach of party politics and patronage – outside of election time – is fragmented and poorly coordinated, means only a few benefit from state support and patronage. Instead, in places like Mvurwi, “the local political economy is more about making deals with traders, input suppliers, contractors and others”, the paper argues.

Day-to-day concerns are the priority, rather than the high politics discussed in the media and academic political commentary. Living with the uncertainties of Zimbabwe’s political economy can be harsh: “A disillusioned rural majority therefore merely jump through the hoops of a shifting, disconnected and often corrupt political system, in order just to make a living”, the paper observes.

The policy brief concludes: “Today, commercial farming in Zimbabwe is at a crossroads, where political economy – perhaps more than factors of productivity, technology or labour – influences production and accumulation outcomes…..Political struggles over the control of the state and its limited resources revolve around land as they always have in Zimbabwe, but now with greater confusion and uncertainty”.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and this version first appeared on Zimbabweland.

Photo credit: Toendepi Shonhe

 

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Food security in Zimbabwe: why a more sophisticated response is needed

food-aid-1

The food security situation in Zimbabwe – and indeed across large swathes of southern Africa – is serious. El Niño has struck hard and production levels this past season were well down. The UN estimates that in Zimbabwe alone 4.1 million people – 42% of the rural population – will be in need of support before the next season. Aid agencies are raising funds and are involved in a major humanitarian operation (see WFP and USAID, for example).

We are now entering the most difficult period. Between September and March, when early ‘green’ crops become available, the food situation will be tough, and many will be reliant on handouts and purchased imported food. Disposal of livelihood assets is already occurring and FEWSNET predicts that large parts of southern Zimbabwe will be in ‘emergency’ conditions, together with parts of Mozambique and Malawi.

There is little doubt that the harvests this year were really poor. And this was on the back of a bad season last year. This means that stocks are low and funds circulating in the local, rural economy limited. I do not want to question for a minute the severity of the situation, but I do want to challenge the way it is being portrayed, and ask whether this allows for the most effective targeting of those really in need.

Data challenges

For Zimbabwe the basic data comes from the annual ZimVac report, complemented by various crop surveys. ZimVac, as discussed on this blog before, is a major survey based on a sample of 14,434 rural households across 60 districts. Enumeration areas are chosen across districts and samples selected based  on population density estimates from the most recent population census. It assesses food production, cash income, livestock and so on, and comes up with a food access estimate, based on a daily 2100 k Calorie intake requirement during the consumption year to 31 March. Those unable to meet food needs through a range of sources are deemed to be in deficit and in need of support. This is where the 4.1 million figure comes from – the number of people estimated to be in this situation at the end of March 2017 (even if just for a day).

But as discussed before on this blog, these estimates may miss out on certain aspects. For example, In April, when visiting field sites in some areas hit badly by drought, I was surprised how much maize was being produced in home gardens and around settlements this year. While the main field crop had failed, more intensive production near the home. Sometimes involving supplementary irrigation, and certainly higher inputs of organic fertiliser, home garden areas were producing maize, including substantial quantities of green mealies. These crops rarely get noticed in the larger censuses as they focus on the main field crop, but added up these can be significant, although of course totals are way down on other years.

The other missing story relates to livestock. This year there were major concerns that the El Niño drought would decimate livestock. There were significant die-offs early on, but thankfully sporadic rains fell in February. This was too late for most crops, but it did replenish grass and water sources in many parts of the country, including those drought prone areas of Masvingo and Matabeleland that were suffering livestock mortalities. This turn-around will have had major impacts on food provisioning in these areas in the absence of harvests. There were entrepreneurs buying up animals in numbers and this was a ready source of cash for many. Many livestock were moved to resettlement areas where there is more plentiful grass due to (currently) lower population densities. The high livestock populations in resettlement areas, particularly in southern districts, adds to their food security resilience.

Livestock and their movement is often forgotten in food security assessments (ZimVac covers elements of this, but it’s complex, and difficult to capture in large surveys). Along with the importance of green mealies, other ‘famine’ crops, and the range of (often illegal) coping strategies that people employ mean that successful food provisioning is far more extensive than the UN agencies suggest.

While the data is broken down by district, it is not differentiated by the type land tenure and use. We do not get a sense of the differential vulnerabilities of, for example, communal area dwellers, those with A1 or A2 farms, villagised or self-contained, nor workers linked to such rural households. We know from extensive research that rural communities are highly differentiated, both within and between sites. At the moment we get a very blunt assessment, district by district. The report lists the ten best-off and worse-off districts, for example. Some of the districts where we work, where there was more land redistribution, both in the Highveld and further south, are in the better-off areas. Does this mean land reform areas are less food insecure? We cannot tell from ZimVac data as presented.

A more complex pattern: why land reform is not to blame

There are hints though that a more complex pattern sits below the aggregate numbers. The ZimVac summary report (p. 150) shows that nationally only 11% of households will be food secure this year based on their own cereal crop production. This is even lower in drought-prone areas, such as Masvingo, for example. On aggregate 58% of the national rural population will be food secure through the consumption season, but this is made up through access to income from a variety of sources, not just food production. How do these aggregate figures match up with data from the new resettlement areas?

We’ve been tracking food production in our study areas in Masvingo for some years. In our sites in Masvingo and Gutu districts for example across the harvest seasons from 2003 to 2013, between 44% and 69% of households produced enough for household consumption (estimated at 1 MT). In the Wondezo extension A1 site in Masvingo, farmers produced on average 2 MT in 2014 and over 6 MT in 2015, with 85% and 89% producing sufficient from maize alone for household consumption in those years. In our A1 resettlement sites in Mazowe, over 5 years between 2010 and 2014 seasons the average household maize production was 3.5 MT, declining over time as tobacco production increased. This means that on average 78% of households produced more than a tonne of maize in each year, and were food secure from own-farm production alone. This of course does not account for the significant cash income from tobacco in Mazowe (realising nearly $3000 per household on average across A1 farms between 2010 and 14), or vegetable production and livestock in Masvingo, along with other sources of income.

In other words, the ZimVac sample must be very different. 11 per cent this year (and higher but still low figures in other years) having sufficient food from own production is way lower than in our admittedly much smaller samples in the resettlements. In our areas, consistently over time and across sites, we do not see the level of food insecurity recorded by the ZimVac surveys – although of course it exists in pockets, among certain vulnerable people. There are of course communal areas nearby our A1 sites where the situation is quite different, and it is probably from here that the ZimVac data derives. Our comparisons with communal areas showed the contrasts, with resettlement areas outperforming communal areas across the board. But without any differentiated national food security data, it is difficult to make sense of the aggregates generated by standard crop assessments and livelihood surveys.

This food security crisis therefore is not the result of land reform as some would have it (as I keep telling journalists who ask; here’s an example from a Dutch daily that offered a more sophisticated take). Other countries in the region have suffered badly from the same drought, and Zimbabwe has before, long before the post 2000 land reform. In fact, land reform areas are an important part of why the actual underlying situation is better than it might be. My hunch – still not tested despite much encouragement – is that ZimVac’s sampling frame (appropriately for a national sample that is proportional to population density) is focused on communal areas. This means that the dynamics of the new resettlements in the food economy are being missed out on.

As reported many times on this blog, we see significant flows of food and other finance coming from the A1 resettlement areas, both to communal areas and to urban centres, through kin networks and labour migrancy. This is unrecorded and therefore not accounted for. My guess is that it is really significant in the overall food security story in the country, and taking account of land reform in the wider assessment would allow a redirection of effort by humanitarian and development agencies to support production for boosting local food security and economies, investing where the potential lies.

There is no reason for complacency though. Things could and should be much better, with proper investment. For example, the lack of irrigation infrastructure (and its state of repair, and its poor functioning due to intermittent electricity supplies) is a cause for major concern, and undermines resilience

The politics of food aid: why a more targeted approach is needed

Food aid is of course is highly political. It always has been, and accusations of partisan allocations have occurred again this year. Many are happy not to rely on the obligations and patronage that food aid implies – whether to the party-state or NGOs – and seek their own way. But there are some who are really destitute, without the networks that provide support. They are really needy and include a lot of people, but it’s certainly not 4.1 million. They include widows or older parents without living children, child-headed households, farm labourers, those with illness and disability, for example.

They all need help, as existing provisioning and coping strategies are insufficient. They are scattered all across the country – including in the high potential, richer areas within communities who are otherwise prospering, and are difficult to find. These are the people who need food, and would be a better focus for a more sophisticated, targeted approach to relief, which could combine with a more strategic developmental approach to increase production and market led economic development across communal, resettlement and urban areas.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared on Zimbabweland

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Mvurwi: from farm worker settlement to booming business centre

On the back of the tobacco boom, Mvurwi town in Mazowe district is humming. It is a hive of activity, with many new businesses and much new building. Mvurwi town had an estimated 2000 residents before land reform, but by 2012 the ZIMSTAT census report showed the population had gone up to 6500. 7500 residents were reported by Mvurwi council in 2016. Before land reform it had a small business centre, with a selection of shops, service providers and government offices, but mostly it was essentially a farm worker settlement, a dormitory town supplying labour to the surrounding large-scale white farms.

Suwoguru compound settlement was established during the colonial era. In the early days houses were pole and dagga structures, but with time the Mvurwi white business and farming community built better homes in the compound for their supervisors and clerical staff. The white business owners, managerial staff and government workers, lived a distance away, in secure, electrified homes close to what became Mvurwi CBD. Foreigner labourers were the largest group within the compound. They originated from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. Locals came from surrounding communal areas, such as Chiweshe, Centenary, Muzarabani and Guruve. Social life in the compound centred around the potent ‘kachasu beer’ and entertainment provided by the still popular Malawian Nyau dancers. Diverse religions were catered for including Islam, and a mosque was built.

Before land reform the central business district of Mvurwi was dominated by farm suppliers. Farmec sold farm inputs, while William Bains and KR sold farm machinery. Tractor agencies serviced large-scale farms nearby. Commercial farmers deposited their monies into Standard Bank in Mvurwi, which in turn, extended loans to them.  CABS Bank was also in town before land reform. POSB served a few blacks such as farm supervisors and civil servants, while farm workers did not have bankable income. Mvurwi commercial farmers enjoyed their leisure time at a country club 8 km along the Mvurwi-Centenary road and at another one at Mutorashanga. A police station and hospital were also present.

Mvurwi has long been a centre for government offices. But with increasingly populations there are greater demands for services. Today from the Ministry of Agriculture there are 17 Agritex staff, 15 Vet, 2 Plant Protection and 6 Mechanisation staff.  There were only 8 Agritex staff pre land reform. Health services have also expanded. Mvuri hospital currently employs 120 workers, up from 60 workers in the past. The hospital serves up to 600 patients per month, double earlier numbers. A clinic was registered after land reform and employs 8 workers. There are 36 Ministry of health extension workers covering Mvurwi locations and CBD, up from 16 in the past. In addition there are 5 primary schools (each with around 800 pupils), up from 3 before land reform and 3 secondary schools, up from 2 before land reform.

Tobacco: the core of the economy

Since land reform the economy of Mvurwi has changed, and there has been significant restructuring as well as growth. Money from tobacco has of course been the driver of growth in Mvurwi since its establishment. But in the past profits were shared among relatively few large-scale white commercial farmers. While workers rented accommodation and would buy basic provisions, their presence in Mvurwi did not generate significant growth. This all changed following 2000, and particularly after 2009 with dollarization, and the expansion of tobacco growing in the area.

There are a number of tobacco buyers and agents in Mvurwi. The TIMB has its offices in the town, and has 4 permanent workers based in Mvurwi. The Mashonaland Tobacco Company has an estimated 28,000 tobacco growers with plantings ranging from 1ha to 120 hectares. 85 % of growers are A1 and CA and 15 % in A2 farms. Tobacco is also bought by Tianze, a Chinese company, and by BAT. ZLT is a big American international company led by Phillip Morris. All in all there are 13 tobacco companies in Mvurwi.

Since land reform, there has been a building boom, with funds from local tobacco farmers and business people driving an expansion of housing. Rusununguko Phase 1 was the first initiative of Mvurwi council, involving 900 stands. Tenants included former employees of white businesses and top former commercial farm employees who used their retirement packages to buy residential stands. After land reform local indigenous business owners, A1 farmers and well to do individuals acquired residential stands. Sizes range between 200 square meters and 600 square meters, and cost around USD 4500. Electricity and tower lights were provided, and Mrs C built a guest house in the residential area.

Another high density location Rusununguko Phase 2 was implemented as a cooperative led by local people. So many problems were encountered mainly due to funding constraints. UNDP and UNICEF provided water and constructed sewer systems, and ZINWA is now servicing the area, although electricity and road networks are yet to be put in place. In a further development (Kurai Phase 1), council allocated 1080 stands to low income earners measuring 300 square meters each. Indigenous construction companies were given tenders by council to carry out development of the location. Servicing of stands started in 2014. Water, sewers and road construction are almost complete. Four houses have since been built. The former Mazoe MP earlier on bought around 150 stands in the location which he allocated to his supporters. He was later implicated in externalization of funds and fled the country, but most beneficiaries held on to their stands.

A number of medium-density areas are also being developed (Kurai Phase 2, Mbizi). The council is offering stands, but servicing of these is taking time. Mbizi is a favourite investment destination for successful A1 farmers. 70 % of the 500 plot holders have completed building of their homes, creating many jobs, and local hardware shops have also profited. Land was allocated to 2 churches, 1 school and 2 creches, but nothing is on the ground yet. In the past low density areas were dominated by retired whites, but demand has grown. Pembi view and Dombomaringa are two new suburbs, with 750 stands pegged with costs of USD 5 to USD 7 per square meter. A good number of owners are A2 farmers and local business people.  Land was also allocated to 1 secondary school and 3 creches.

Across all these residential developments, around 85 commercial stands have also been allocated in the hope that business will increase. Most current business activity is however in and around the CBD, and near the original township area. The massive building projects on-going have generated business for hardware stores in particular. There are currently 23 hardware shops in Mvurwi employing 46 workers compared to only four before land reform that employed 28 workers. Tractor, truck and lorry owners made money transporting building materials, and these transport business have also expanded. Today there are also 8 brick moulding groups in Mvurwi compared to none before land reform. There are also 4 sawmills in Suwoguru, owned by local individuals, all established after land reform, and providing materials for new homes. Saw millers buy raw timber from the resettlement farmers, add value and sell the sawn timber to carpenters who made doors, cabinets and roofing materials that they sell to those building houses.

A changing business environment

Following land reform a number of businesses closed as the economy restructured. Farmec and William Bain closed shop around 2008, The four trator agencies closed down, as demand for tractor services in the new farms was being met locally. Delta Beverages also closed in 2015 citing operational losses, and lack of a stable maize supply for brewing with a resulting loss of around 50 jobs. There has been a shift in financial institutions too as the economy restructured, with Standard Chartered and CABS closing, while CBZ and Agribank have established operations, and the government owned POSB continued. The current 3 banks employ 24 people – less than the pre land reform banks when 32 workers were employed. There has been a massive shift to the informal economy, with many people creating livelihoods from new, informal businesses.

In the past a few farm supply shops sold inputs to large-scale commercial farmers. However many such farmers bought wholesale in Harare, and did not frequent local shops. Today, following land reform, business has expanded locally but with a new customer base, and different demands. The old shops – Agricura, Farm and City and Mashco – still continue (in some cases cashing in also on hardware supplies) – but they have been joined by new investors including, Nico Orgo and Omnia, along with many other smaller indigenous businesses. Stock feed and day old chick suppliers have also prospered. There are 5 stockfeeds shops now that sell day old chicks and animal feeds. Profeeds a subsidiary of Irvines sells chicks, point of lay pullets, vets and feeds. Windmill also sells feeds of all farm animals. Other stockfeed shops include Fivet, Farm and City and Northern Supplies.

A multiplicity of enterprises have opened in Suwoguru and Mvurwi CBD following land reform. Expansion has occurred in certain areas. Butcheries have expanded from 3 to 14, with employment growing from 6 to 30. Equally bars and bottle stores are increasing. Today there are 11 registered beer outlets in Suwoguru and CBD that employ 55 workers, compared to 9 beer outlets, employing 45 people, before 2000. General ‘tuck shops’ selling mainly clothes and items from clothing, cellphones, electrical gadgets, to kitchen ware have expanded, with about 70 stalls at Suwoguru market. The Chinese have also set up shops, and also employ locals in their stores.  Eco-cash and airtime vendors are plentiful. There are over 20 registered, but also many more working informally in Mvurwi. There is now one Internet café, and 10 photocopy shops and typing service shops. With increased car ownership there are now 6 service stations and 3 car washes, all opened since land reform.

Such businesses operate at different scales, and often interact. For example, Golis supermarket in Mvurwi is the big wholesaler with cheaper prices, and has been long established. Before land reform there were also 10 other grocery shops employing around 30 workers. By 2015 grocery shops had increased to 32, employing about 96 workers. Market vendors complement the formal shops. The market area has expanded significantly since land reform. MN is a female vendor aged 35:

“I buy and sell various farm produce like vegetables and tomatoes but my main business is buying and selling sweet potatoes. I buy sweet potatoes from farms and hire scotch carts to bring the produce to the tar road. A cart can carry 36 buckets and transport charge is US 3 per trip. At the tar road Kombis charge USD 9 to ferry the 36 buckets to my market stall in Mvurwi township. I buy sweet potatoes at farm gate for USD 3 per bucket and sell at USD 5 per bucket. I manage to buy and sell 36 buckets per week. I am the sole owner of the business which has helped me buy a residential stand and pay school fees”

Agro-dealers bring in produce from as far as Muzarabani and Guruve to Suwoguru and Mvurwi CBD markets. A wide range of products are brought which include masau berries, indigenous chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, rape, covo, water melons, cabbages, onions, carrots, green mealies, apples and bananas.

Some of this is sold on to food outlets. There are now 11 food outlets in Mvurwi CB and 9 in Suwoguru location. The 20 food outlets employ 60 workers compared to the 6 food outlets pre land reform that employed 20 workers. We interviewed owners of food business outlets in Mvurwi CBD who get their supplies from agro- produce dealers. Mrs G, aged 60, owns Gogo’s Chikenland

“I have two outlets one in Mvurwi CBD and another in the Suwoguru towship. I buy Irish potatoes from local farmers which I process into chips served with chicken. I employ a driver who earns usd 300 per month as well as 6 other permanent workers. Business constraints include load shedding and poor quality potatoes at times. Other income sources include a boarding house in town which accommodates up to 60 school children and a creche which takes 50 children. I have plans to build a primary school. I own 2 private cars and a house in Mvurwi’s low density surburb. I also bought 3 residential stands.”

Transport business is key in and around Mvurwi. Business involves carrying passengers, inputs/ produce and building materials. Buses, kombis, lorries, trucks are readily available. All roads from Harare, Mtorashanga, Guruve, Centerary and Muzarabani pass through Mvurwi.

Local transporters with 30 tonne trucks were given transport contracts by some of the 13 tobacco companies in Mvurwi. We interviewed Mvurwi CBD based transporter, Mr DK:

“I own 3 x 30 ton trucks. I carry tobacco and tobacco fuelwood between April and September. I transport fuelwood to Chiweshe, maize to Mvurwi and tobacco to Harare. The main business challenge is competition from transporters using smaller trucks. Customers prefer them because they fill up quickly and farmers get to the market in time. More and more farmers are also buying their own trucks.”

Brick moulding and transport are linked. About 90% of houses built in Mvurwi used common farm bricks giving livelihood opportunities to the ordinary brick moulder as well as transporters and loaders. Bricks sell at USD 30 per thousand and USD 15 to transport. On a good day a loader can get USD 8 while a transporter can get USD 80 after accounting for fuels. Brick moulders also sell pit sand, river sand and quarry stones.

A fast changing urban centre

Driven by local agricultural activity, there has been growth across a variety of sectors. Opportunities have expanded, particularly in the informal sector.  Tobacco profits are the main driver, although in the last year these have been down, and some are questioning the long-term sustainability of the sector. Farmers are moving to other products, including irrigated horticulture, and this will continue to drive demand for services in Mvurwi, and when profitable will provide the basis for further investment. Unlike in the period before land reform the economy is increasingly localised, with benefits generated in towns like Mvurwi.

Yet despite this growth, there are multiple challenges for small towns in largely rural areas. How should urban policy respond to changes in the agrarian sector, how can local economic growth linked to agriculture be sustained, and what new thinking around physical planning, town development and governance is needed? These policy questions will be the focus for next week’s blog.

 

This post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared on Zimbabweland.

Research was also carried out by Sarai, BZ Mavedzenge and Felix Murimbarimba

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Changes in beef market regulations open opportunities in southern Africa

Last month at the OIE (World Animal Health Organisation) Assembly in Paris, changes to international regulatory standards around Foot and Mouth Disease were adopted. This has long been argued for, and will make a big difference to livestock producers across southern Africa.

The updated OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code makes it possible for African countries with wild species like buffalo that naturally harbour foot and mouth disease (FMD) viruses to be able to trade beef without necessarily requiring the physical separation of wildlife and livestock through the extensive veterinary cordon fencing that has characterized animal disease management in southern Africa since the colonial era.

Steve Osofsky,  Wildlife Conservation Society  AHEAD Coordinator,  commented “we’ve reached a critical turning point in regards to resolving the more than half century-old conflict between international beef trade policy based on foot and mouth disease control fencing in the southern African context and the migratory needs of free-ranging wildlife in the region and beyond”.

In Zimbabwe, with large populations of FMD-carrying buffalo, this has long been a major challenge. In the past, a massive amount of funding was spent on trying to keep buffalos and livestock separate and thousands of kilometers of fencing erected, in order to gain access to international markets. The European Union invested considerable sums in creating a zoned arrangement, with ‘disease free’, ‘buffer’ and ‘infected’ areas to allow exports to European markets under special agreements that existed under the Lome agreement. This was a lucrative trade for those beef farmers able to comply. However, it also excluded many beef producers in large parts of the country. In addition, it diverted huge amounts of aid funds, as well as government resources, in the inevitably vain attempt to create FMD disease freedom.

In southern Africa, where the FMD virus is endemic, this was an unscientific and expensive policy. But pressure from European nations and others in the OIE prevented any change in international regulatory policy until now, despite excellent arguments from African researchers, including from Zimbabwe, that safe trade alternatives exist. In many ways it was a scandal – a huge waste of time and public money, distorting markets and creating benefits for the few not the many in the name of ‘development’ and ‘aid’.

Now quarantine-based value chain approaches to beef production (also known as commodity-based trade) can become a routine option.  AHEAD Guidelines show how this policy change offers the unprecedented possibility of access to new beef markets for southern African livestock producers. As Osofsky says, it also “unlocks the potential for restoring migratory movements of wildlife and thus enhancing prospects for long-term wildlife populatioon viability within individual countries as well as in transboundary landscapes like the KAZA Transfrontier Conservation Area”.

As argued in earlier research convened by the ESRC STEPS Centre and supported by the Wellcome Trust, commodity-based trade for beef will help open up markets within Africa, as well as Asia, and  make these markets available for a wider range of producers. A journal article and associated commentaries mapped out the options. Complying with safe trade regulations requires upgrading value chain infrastructure and support, but it means that a small-scale livestock producer in the new resettlements or communal areas can now access high value markets, boosting ecoomic opportunity and improving livelihoods. Land reform has restructured markets as well as land, and the’ real markets‘ for beef allow multiple opportunities (see also our recent ‘making markets’ film on beef).  This policy change will therefore make a massive difference to people and economies across the region.

The old era of fencing and absurd and unachievable ‘disease free’ zones is now over, and we can now accept that livestock production in southern Africa must live with the FMD virus, but in a way that allows for safe trade and careful regulation. Sometimes the long, hard slog of evidence-based policy research does pay off, despite plenty of interests stacked against it. Congratulations to the 180 national members – and especially the African contingent – at the OIE Assembly!

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland

 

 

 

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Zimbabwe’s new agricultural entrepreneurs III: irrigators

Gardening has always been part of farming practice in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. Usually a small river bank plot, or an area near the home, has been planted with vegetables for home consumption. Few farmers in the communal areas scale up to more commercial operations, as horticulture requires inputs – notably water – and marketing at scale is always a challenge given the perishability of most vegetables. However in recent years in the new resettlements there has been a growth of small-scale commercial horticulture. This has arisen due to changes in the costs of irrigation technology, the availability of water, and the opportunities that changing markets post-land reform offer.

In the dryland settings of Masvingo, irrigation – particularly for horticultural crops – is essential. Yet state-led irrigation investment in Zimbabwe has been limited in recent years, despite the universally recognised priority. Instead, people have taken things into their own hands and are making use of low cost irrigation technology to set up irrigation systems in their farms and gardens. The expansion of small-scale irrigation has been substantial, and with this a variety of new horticultural production businesses.

In 2014 we undertook a survey of such commercial horticulture enterprises across our sites in Masvingo province. We identified 15 such enterprises of varying scales. Unlike the small ‘womens’ gardens’ that dominated vegetable production before, these were largely run by men, although always with strong involvement of their wives and other family members. There was often a gendered differentiation in roles, with women often engaged in processing of vegetables, including drying, while men oversaw the transport and sales of vegetables to town. There was a cluster of such enterprises discovered in the Wondedzo area, making use of the availability of water in the Muturikwi river and the proximity to Masvingo town for marketing.

One such irrigation entrepreneur has previously been profiled, and appears, along with his wives, in one of our films produced under the Space, Markets, Employment and Agricultural Development project. Below we offer two more case studies, illustrating some of the common patterns and challenges observed.

Case 1: I live in Clare A1 resettlement area. My irrigated area is about 1.5ha. I started this project early 2004. We used to have a co-operative garden back in the communal area, before we came to the resettlement, so I carried the project from there. I invested a lot in this business. We sold our one oxen which costs $700 and two sheep costing $80 each giving me a total of $860 from livestock sales. The other money came from my husband`s basic salary, as he is an extension worker. I started this project with capital of $3000. There were various costs including: land clearance ($200-00), pump purchase and its transport from Harare ($1200-00) and pipes including transport ($250-00). Later I also improved most of my structures and managed to construct a tank (costing $1105) and purchased another engine. I use my 10 horsepower diesel engine and 5 horsepower petrol engine in case of emergency. I bought them from Harare at ATM. I also bought some of my pipes in Masvingo at Irrigation Services in 2011 when I finished constructing my tank.

My plot has green maize (0.5ha), tomatoes (0.25ha), Potatoes (0.25ha), Onions (0.3ha) and Okra (0.2h). Costs include seed, fertiliser (both top and basal), pesticides, trellis and fence wire, and transport to get the inputs, from Masvingo or Gutu growth point – Farm and City or Masvingo Farm Supplies. I use family labour and one permanent worker who is paid $90 per month, but lives as a member of the family and eats with us, and he is provided accommodation too. At peak times I also hire in labour. For my temporary labourers I only pay $5 per day, and when weeding maize I pay them $1 per line of about 50m. For health and safety precaution I bought protective clothing like overalls, gloves, raincoat, masks, gumboots, when using chemicals at some time I also bought milk to drink after using chemicals. For protective clothing I supply my worker with a work suit for performing his duties.

My major products are sold to the local farmers and some to the nearby Rufaro boarding school, as well as at Chatsworth Township. It is very difficult for me to calculate the numbers sold per crop but what I really know is the cash I got from each crop is at least $500-00, meaning I earn about $2000 each year from the business. I usually produce crops at off-season to take advantage of increased demand and better prices.

Case 2: Presently I am using an area of about 0.8 hectares of my A1 farm in Wondedzo area for irrigation purposes which I started in August 2013. My water source for irrigation is the nearby Mutirikwi river. Currently I have one petrol pump – a 6.5 horse power Nexus model – which uses 75mm pipes and I use flood irrigation. So far I have only managed to grow two crops which are green mealies and tomatoes because I am still in the process of learning from others who have been irrigators before. But as time goes on and through exposure and training we get from Agritex (the extension agency), I shall venture into other crop production such as butternuts, potatoes, cabbages and carrots. The major market for my previous crop produce was Masvingo’s Chitima market, where I sold the bulk of produce. The next most important market was individual buyers in Rujeko township.

I invested about $600-00 into the project. I am a retired soldier, so I used my pension. The operations which include land clearance as well as fencing, was done by me and my family. I have one labourer who I pay $70 per month. Other benefits which we give to the employee include free accommodation and free food. I take him as my son because he shares accommodation with my sons. He eats what he wants to eat as a family member. For his health and safety, I give my employee gumboots, a work suit and face masks /respirators which he uses during production operations in the field. The costs for the project were barbed wire ($195), pump ($220) and piping ($380). I bought all these materials from N.J in Masvingo town.

Inputs for my 0.25ha maize (green mealies) crop include:

Seed-5kg =$12-00   source = Farm and City

1 x 50kg-AN=$36-00   source=Farm and City

Combat 250g=$5-00   source= Musa Hardware

Fuel 30 litres=$37-00 source= Service Station

Total expenditure – $90-00

For basal fertilizers, I use livestock manure to save cash. We sell green mealies in Masvingo Town`s Chitima market (5000 cobs), as well as vendors who come to the farm (1000 cobs) and about 750 cobs were sold locally. This fetched a gross income of about $2250, with the marketing period only lasted about 2 weeks at $1-00 for 3 cobs.

Inputs for the tomato crop include:

Seed 3400 seedlings=$75-00, source =Empire seed-Harare

Compound D 1x50kg=$33-00, manure, source=Farm supply- Masvingo

Top dressing 1x50kg =$36-00, source=Farm supply-Masvingo

Chemicals 50g Mancozeb=$7-00, source=Farm supply- Masvingo

400ml Lamdercure =$12-00, source=Farm supply-Masvingo

200g Acetamac=$4-00, source=Musa Hardware- Masvingo

Fuel 60 litres =$75-00, source=Service station

Total expenditure =$164-00

I managed to sell 49 crates in Masvingo Chitima market and earned a gross income of about $1135 and on average a crate of tomatoes was going for $23.

Some of the income obtained from the irrigation project we use it to pay children`s school fees as they learn in boarding schools which are a bit expensive. From the time we started the project we also got a little extra money to buy food during the drought and also for re-capitalisation purposes.

There are several challenges which I encounter in the project cycle which negatively affect my profits which include charges imposed by the city council for one to market produce at Chitima market; for example $1 per two hours for outside vendors. Transport here is also eroding much of our profits; for example $30 per single trip charged by local transporters. There are no storage facilities where we can rent over-night at the market, so sometimes we have to ship produce back to the farm.

In the future, I need to expand the size of the irrigable plot to about two hectares such that I will divide the land into four portions of 0.5 ha each in order to practise good rotation as well as increase production. I also need to buy another engine of a bigger size – 9.5 horsepower – to lessen the challenge of engine breakdowns. In order to market my produce I will need my own pickup truck.

A number of themes emerge from the examples of irrigation entrepreneurs we interviewed, highlighted by these two case studies:

  • Operations are relatively small, usually on 1-2 ha of land. Production is intensive, and often using significant amounts of chemicals
  • Irrigation is essential, but pressure on water sources is intense as horticulture takes off in an area.
  • The availability of cheap (Chinese) pumps has revolutionised the opportunities for irrigation. No longer is a ‘group garden’ approach required with a donor paying for the pump. These are all individual enterprises.
  • Entry costs (because of low pump prices especially) are relatively low, and can be afforded by a wide array of people, using crop/livestock sales or retirement/remittance income to get going.
  • Most are providing new employment, both permanent and temporary, although family labour dominates.
  • Crop diversity is limited (green maize and tomatoes dominate), with problems of production gluts, although some more established enterprises have begun to diversify, seeking out niche markets, and managing production to take advantage of seasonal production and price cycles.
  • Advice is sought from neighbours – particularly in the Wondedzo irrigation cluster – but also from Agritex, the government extension agency, who seem to be quite involved in horticulture production support.
  • Processing and added value sales (drying, pickling etc.) is limited, and sales are mostly fresh (with big problems of perishability at peak times)
  • Market access is crucial and it is the sites with smaller distances and good road connections (and relatively low transport costs) that take off.
  • Marketing includes sales at ‘town markets’ (both informal and those regulated by municipal councils), to vendors (who come to the farm to buy), to supermarkets (relatively few, and only those with transport who can provide in bulk in a timely manner), and to local consumers in the area.
  • Net income varies, but exceeds $1000 per annum in all cases, rising to perhaps $10000 or more. This income is significant in the wider livelihood portfolio.

The three blogs in this series have shown how the new resettlement areas post land reform are providing the context for a new dynamic of agricultural commercialisation. It is small scale, but is generating profits, supplying markets and providing employment. It does not involve everyone, as there are entry costs to each of these enterprises. Men certainly dominate pig and larger scale horticulture production, but broiler production also involves a significant number of women. In contrast to the ‘project’ focused development support of the past, these are mostly individual enterprises run by families, but hiring in labour. Technological innovation (and changing cost structures) – most dramatically around irrigation pumps – is important, as are input supply networks, product markets and transport linkages to ensure that produce is sold at good prices. Market connections often remain underdeveloped, and market costs (notably transport) and other challenges were frequently mentioned in interviews. Opportunities for added value production remain limited, and most entrepreneurs are only involved in primary production, rather than processing etc. Upgrading of enterprises is ongoing, and we have seen these grow over the years, and particularly since the stabilisation of the economy in 2009, when market interactions with a dollarized currency became possible.

The new agricultural entrepreneurs on the new resettlements are definitely a group worth watching, as the agrarian landscape continues to change in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. The new commerical agriculture is small-scale, dynamic and highly entrepreneurial, and is changing both production and markets.

This work was undertaken under the Space, Markets, Employment and Agricultural Development project, and the field research was led by BZ Mavedezenge and Felix Murimbarimba.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared first on Zimbabweland

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Zimbabwe’s new agricultural entrepreneurs II: Poultry

Broiler production has really taken off in the new resettlements. This is on the back of a growth of poultry production more broadly in the country. This has seen a significant rebound as the poultry industry has restructured from large, high-tech operations to a much more diverse set of small production units. While a few large operations exist, including the well-established companies such as Irvines and Suncrest and some newcomers such as Lunar Chickens run by former Reserve Bank chief, Gideon Gono, most operations are much smaller. And this is the segment that is driving the new poultry industry in the rural areas.

In 2014 we did a survey across our 16 A1 and A2 sites across Masvingo province. We found 13 new broiler businesses, and one new egg production business. All were individual household based enterprises, except one group project. These complement the almost universal keeping of (mostly indigenous) chickens for meat and eggs. These operations stand out for their scale (most had around 50-100 birds), and the level of inputs required. Four cases are shared below:

Case 1: I am Mrs AM and am 44 yrs and live in Wondedzo. I started the poultry project in April 2013 with funds from farming. I started with 50 birds but numbers kept going up. At present I have 100 broilers. I employ a casual worker but my husband assists so do the work, as well as children when they are on holidays. Brolier rearing knowledge comes from several sources. My husband qualified as Ordinary Master Farmer. I also attend development meetings, field days and area shows. In the last 12 months the chicken budget was as below:

Input type Amount Cost $USD
Bought in broiler chicks 450 birds 450
Drugs    
Stress pack 900ml 27
ESB 3 900ml 153
Sulphur drug 900ml 45
OTCS 900ml 45
Feeds    
Broiler starter mash 450kgs 342
Concentrate 450kgs 315
Broiler finisher 2250kgs 1575
Transport Moving broilers in and outCarrying feeds 105
Total   2505

I source drugs and feeds from Masvingo town from shops that include Chifefe hardware, Metro Peach and Farm Supplies. Coccidiosis is the most common disease, which resulted in some mortalities. I sold 444 broiler units in the last 12 months. Some broilers were sold locally but most were sold in Masvingo town in Mucheke township, the ‘train market’ and food outlets all over town. Broiler income in the past 12 months is shown below

Market Broilers sold Amount
Masvingo Train Market 250 1750
Mucheke township 100 700
Food outlets 44 308
Local market 50 350
Total 444 3108

Marketing challenges include bad debtors and late debt repayments that negatively affect smooth running of the business. Some transporters charge steeply. Competition is stiff during public holidays at Christmas, Easter and Heroes’ Day. During such times I keep more broilers but try to quickly clear the stock to avoid extra feed costs. The urgency to sell quickly sometimes results in risky buyers easily getting birds on credit but taking their time to repay. Income from my broiler project was used to purchase day old chicks from Mitchells, paying school fees, groceries and buying clothes for the family. Future plans include building more chicken houses and establishing permanent markets which buy in bulk, such as boarding schools and Masvingo town hotels.

Case 2: We started our Wondedzo broiler group project in June 2013 with 25 day old chicks donated by the then aspiring MP for Masvingo North, Mr Marapira; now Deputy Minister of Agriculture. This was a God-send because we had always wanted to venture into a project to raise money for school fees, groceries and clothing for our families. Mr Marapira also provided feed and drugs to cover 10 birds up to marketing. We have not looked back and expanded the project housed at N’s homestead. . At present we have 50 birds. We operate the project on a roster basis providing our own labour. In the last 12 months the following costs were incurred:

Input type Amount Cost USD$
Day old chicks 100 100
Transporting broilers, feeds 75
Drugs    
Terramycin 300g 12
Stress pack 100g 10
Starter pack 400g 14
Feeds    
Broiler starter 125 kg 100
Concentrate 65 kg 49
Growers 150kg 108
Finisher 100 kg 76
Total   530

Inputs were sourced from Masvingo town shops, including Musa Hardware, Farm Supplies and Bilcro. When we buy day old 4 extra chicks are added per 100 to offset mortalities. In the last 12 months we sold 110 broilers as follows:

Market Broilers sold Amount USD$
Local farmers 74 518
Local shops 7 49
Project members 26 182
Sanangwe primary school teachers 3 21
Total 110 770

Profits are shared among members who use the money to cover family basic needs. Problems faced include lack of finance to build proper housing. At present we house the day old chicks in a mobile mesh wire cage. After two weeks we place them in a bigger fixed cage at home. Watering for the birds is a big challenge as water is fetched from Mutirikwe river 2 km away. We want to expand and reach out to boarding schools, supermarkets and food outlets in Masvingo town.

Case 3: My name is Mr M. I work as a labourer on this A2 farm in Northdale with 3 others. I manage their broilers in addition to other work I do at this farm which includes horticulture, managing cattle and a piggery which has just started. The broiler project started in 2013. The farmer decided they could make better money from some of their maize produce through feeding it to broilers and selling meat instead of grain. Another reason for keeping broilers was the quick turn over in this kind of business. It takes just six weeks for a batch to get marketable. A minimum of 100 and a maximum of 700 broilers are kept at the farm at different times from 2013. The last batch had 400 broilers and only 36 remain. Mr M himself does the purchasing of broilers feeds and chemicals. Inputs are bought from Pro Feeds and Masvingo Farm Supplies. Straight feeds such as broiler starter mash are complimented by mixes of concentrates and home grown maize. Breakdown of inputs for a 100 batch of broilers is shown in below:

Input Quantity Cost USD$
Broilers 100 100
Broiler starter mash 4 x 50 kg bags 136
Concentrate 4 x 50 kg bags 148
Home grown maize 24 buckets 96
Transport 60
Stress pack 1 kg 8
OTC 200g 10
Sulphur demidine 400g 16
Total   574

The broiler value chain involves raising them here at the farm and selling meat at their Njeremoto Superette in Masvingo town. I am not privy to selling prices in Masvingo but I think they fetch around USD$8 per bird. Here on farms locals in Northdale and Salem also buy some live broilers at the farmgate at USD$7 each. Some income from broilers returns to the farm as our wages. The four of us earn USD$150 each. Some of the money gets ploughed back into business – purchase of new broiler stock, buying feeds and drugs.

Challenges faced by the broiler business were mostly the high price of concentrate feeds and transport costs to market. Masvingo is more than 60 kms away. Mr M owns a pickup truck. Diseases are not a problem here because Mr M is a former Agritex head with vast experience. Diseases get controlled quickly before they spread. The Ms want to scale up broiler production by increasing numbers in batches from 100 to 200. More broiler pens will be built. They also want to send me for training courses on broiler management.

Case 4: My name is SM from A1 Lonely Farm in Gutu district. We started the project together with my wife in 2013. Keeping of egg layers has improved our household nutrition. We always have eggs for breakfast now. We decided to go into egg production as a way of diversifying our farm enterprises. The idea came from our cousin Mr M who sourced the 6 month old 100 point of lay pullets for us paying USD$500 dollars of his own money. We later repaid him over some months. We also gave him some maize bags in appreciation.My wife and I worked on the project at first but we recently employed a farm worker who we pay USD$80 per month. We built a house for the layers and when necessary collect grass used to spread in the deep layer system we use. Water is available from our high yielding well at the homestead. We purchase some straight feeds and concentrates which we mix with home grown maize at a ratio of two parts concentrate to three parts crushed maize. Inputs for two months are in table below:

Input Quantity Unit cost USD$ Cost USD$
Layers Mash 300 kg 6 / 50 kg 204
Concentrate 200 kg 38 /50 kg 152
Combivit M A 5
Maize 450 kg 10/ 50kg 90
Vitamins 4 packets 5 / packet 20
Total     471

We pick three crates of eggs per day which we sell at USD$5 each or USD$15 per day or USD$400 per month. A crate contains 30 eggs. During school days, Rufaro boarding high school serves as a ready market. Business is down during school holidays. At that time the market is composed of local farmers and few teachers remaining at the school. In a year we gross above USD$4000. Money realised goes to school fees, groceries, purchase of feeds for layers and buying agricultural inputs. Challenges are the high cost of concentrate feeds and bad debtors. Future plans are to increase flock sizes and number of layer pens. We also want scale up our horticulture. Manure from layers provides fertility to the garden.

Case 5: My name is Mrs M from Clare farm in Gutu district. My husband died recently. The project started in 2011 with seed money sent by our son who works in America. We employ two permanent workers for the project and other general farm work. They earn USD$80 per month each. We keep a minimum of 100 broilers and a maximum of 300. Expenses for the last batch of 300 birds are in table below:

Input Quantity Cost USD $
Day old chicks 300 300
Broiler starter mash 300 kg 204
Concentrate 500 kg 360
Maize for crushes 30 buckets 90
Stress pack I Kg 8
OTC 200 g 10
Sulphur demidine 400 g 16
Total   988

We buy day old chicks from Tree Wood in Masvingo town and feeds from Pro Feeds also in Masvingo town. Small amounts of inputs are bought from Chatsworth shops. The major market is Rufaro boarding school where most of the broilers were sold for USD$7 each followed by local farmers, Business is brisk during public holidays. We sold 457 broilers in the last 12 months which realised USD$3199. The family ate 25 broilers and 16 died of diseases. During the rainy season and cold weather chicks develop problems of weak legs due to lack of sunlight. Unfortunately most of the money was used to pay hospital bills for my late husband. Main challenges apart from the loss of my husband include the high cost of bought feeds and the cost of transporting these to the farm. My future plan is to build good housing for broilers, increase flock size and venture into new markets such as restaurants and supermarkets.

A number of themes emerge:

  • Organisation and ownership of the businesses: arrangements are quite varied – from very small operations (25-50 birds) to quite large (400-700 birds).
  • Women are much more involved than in the piggery projects profiled last week. Group efforts have taken off too.
  • Start-up finance has been crucial. This has come from a variety of sources, including remittances, and campaign gifts from prospective politicians.
  • Inputs, including feed and veterinary medicines are important input costs, with links to reliable supply chains essential
  • Cross-links with other farm activities are important – including supplying food and delivering manure for gardens.
  • Infrastructure upgrading is occurring as people scale up, especially building new poultry housing.
  • Employment generation is happening, but on a small scale.
  • Markets are largely informal and local, but some are supplying to urban supermarkets and institutions (such as boarding schools etc.).
  • Links to day old chick producers are key – and the presence of the Mitchell’s farm operation in Masvingo is an essential part of the wider chain. This is a large-scale white owned farm that is widely valued by people across the region, because of this.

This work was undertaken under the Space, Markets, Employment and Agricultural Development project, and the field research was led by BZ Mavedezenge and Felix Murimbarimba.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared first on Zimbabweland

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A hot commercial success: growing chilli in the eastern highlands

Our film series Making Markets: Land Reform, Agriculture and New Local Economies in Zimbabwe that we launched last year focused on beef, horticulture and tobacco. These are well known crops in Zimbabwe. But commercial success generated by smallholder agriculture is happening in other less traditional crops too.

Recently I came across a video of a project in Nyanga focused on the growing of chillies on contract (watch it below). It tells a very similar story to our cases: vibrant commerical agriculture linked to markets, and supported through contracting arrangements. Group arrangements in production and marketing help, alongside a guaranteed buyer offering decent prices, as well as that critical ingredient, finance. In the case of chillies local businesses add value to produce a range of products including chili sources and pastes. The crop is also sold internationally, reaching distant markets as far as the USA. As the film shows, a 0.2ha plot can result in a $1000 income stream. The bank teller in the local town, the film claims, is kept busy banking farmers’ receipts.

This example has been facilitated by an external project. There are always risks with this, as we have seen in countless failed NGO and donor projects in the past. Let’s hope that they thought through the implications for long-term business sustainability, and that farmers do not become over-reliant on a production system that will inevitably have ups and downs. The commitment of only a small land area means that the farmers will no doubt have other crops being grown, and the chilli farming is only one part of a wider set of enterprises on and off farm. This is important for longer term livelihood resilience, something that perhaps can be questioned in the over-reliance on tobacco (one of the crops focused on in our films) across large swathes of the tobacco. A decline in global demand, a drop in price, a collapse in credit finance, a withdrawal of competitive contractors could all have devastating consequences.

Patterns of commercialisation in agriculture are diverse, but some key ingredients are necessary. These include a strong and reliable market, access to cheap finance, good quality control, market intelligence and the ability to lower costs through good location, cooperative organisation and so on. The Nyanga chilli project has all the elements. Check out the video here:

This post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared first on Zimbabweland

 

 

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