RUNDU - The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs (governor) of Mashonaland West province in Zimbabwe, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, says there is a need to bridge the wealth gap between the farmer and the distributor.
Mliswa-Chikoka said the situation of super profits for distributors while farmers remain poor must be minimised to benefit all players equally.
She made the remarks during the official opening of the Rundu Farmer’s Market by Food Namibia in Rundu on Thursday. She was invited by her counterpart governor Samuel Mbambo to attend the event and she took the opportunity to tour certain agriculturral projects in the region.
“It is very sad that the farmer, who has put in all the work, has a distributor who will buy his or her oranges for 25 cents and the distributor will go and put on a mark-up of two dollars but the farmer who has put in more work just got 25 cents. We must bridge that gap, even if it means that as farmers we come together and have cooperatives whereby you the farmer are the distributor and when consumers want to buy they come straight to the source. That way farming will then become a viable business,” she said.
She said it is important to note that the next generation of millionaires should come from the agricultural sector, thus it is imperative that farmers have a renewed mindset that transcends from just being subsistence farmers to commercial farmers while adopting the concept of value addition.
“My president, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa, is on a drive to empower women, therefore the delegation accompanying me comprises of three wonderful women farmers that are doing tremendous work in Mashonaland West province,” she said.
Mliswa-Chikoka said that besides the fact that the three women farmers were doing very well on their farms back home in Zimbabwe, she brought them to motivate and inspire other women in Kavango as well as learn from them.
“I encourage them to learn and benchmark on the best practices they will learn from their Namibian counterparts,” she added.
Kavango East region has a twinning agreement with Mashonaland West province wherebby the two regions will work together especially in the economic and agriculture sectors.
“Mashonaland West province wants this twinning to be a vibrant economic enabler for the two regions. In conclusion, I want to congratulate my counterpart Ambassador Dr Samuel Mbambo for this noble vision of using agriculture as a springboard for economic development. The Almighty God seems to have also noted this noble event by blessing it with a few showers, which confirms the importance of farming.”
The three-day farmer’s market event started on Thursday and ended on Saturday.