Smallholder Farmers Struggle to Access Mainstream Markets

In rural Hwange smallholder farmers struggle to access mainstream markets to sell their produce and make a living.

BY GEORGINA SOKO | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | AUG 10, 2022

In Hwange, vegetable gardening has given dozens of low-income communities a lifeline to avert a food crisis. But a majority of them are struggling to access lucrative markets for their extra produce.

HWANGE (The Citizen Bulletin) — With a smile of pure joy, Margaret Ncube joins other villagers in song as they welcome visitors.

It is not every day they receive visitors at their solar powered irrigation scheme funded by a humanitarian aid organisation.

But this time officials from World Vision have graced Chilanga village with their presence to conduct a tour of the community’s market garden.

Our biggest challenge in sourcing for income has been access to markets to sell our produce, Ncube tells The Citizen Bulletin.

“We hardly have people coming here to buy our market produce because of our remote location.”
Margaret Ncube, smallholder farmer

While the vegetable garden has helped avert a potential food crisis amongst poor families in rural Hwange, Ncube and other small-holder farmers find it difficult to access mainstream markets to sell their extra produce.

Ncube says she walks a minimum of 12km to the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road where she hikes transport to Hwange urban centre to sell her garden produce to vegetable vendors.

Ncube says she is sometimes forced to lower her prices to beat other variables such as market competition and product lifespan.  

In Hwange, climate change is one of the leading causes of an emerging food crisis.

In order to help local communities avert some of the challenges ushered in by the negative effects of climate change World Vision established a solar powered irrigation scheme  in Bhale, Chilanga, Chachachunda, Mashala, Sidinda, Lumbora, Ndoweni and Mutwe villages.

Smallholder farmers from these villages produce enough food to feed their families and a surplus to sell to raise income to supplement their daily needs.

But Enelesi Shoko of Kwenjani garden in Dinde says lack of formal markets hampers their efforts to raise enough income to support their families.

“We have been food insecure for a very long time but the produce from the garden has helped us avert the challenge as we are able to use the solar-powered irrigation scheme to produce   enough food.”
Enelesi Shoko, another smallholder farmer

“While this is a welcome development, realising income from our produce has been a challenge as we are located where the terrain is bad and isolated.”

According to the latest ZimVac report, Hwange has the highest proportion of households (92%) consuming poor diets.

Smallholder farmers walk 12km to the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road to get transport to Hwange urban centre.

A recent Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT) Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Survey 2017 Report says about 70.5% of the population in Hwange district were poor, while 29.3% others were described as extremely poor.

The report acknowledges that poverty continued “to be one of the major underlying causes of vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity as well as precarious livelihoods in Zimbabwe.”

The report states that though casual labour accounted as the main source of income at 40 percent, food crop and vegetable production/sales contributed 25% and 22% respectively.

World Vision Hwange Area Programmes manager, Lovemore Nyoni says the majority of farmers are locked out of profitable markets.

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“While we have done a lot in trying to improve livelihoods through ensuring household food security and nutrition especially with the main beneficiary being the child, some communities particularly those furthest from Hwange urban face challenges such as access to markets,” Nyoni says.

Nyoni adds that good access to lucrative markets is vital for farmers to be profitable and productive.

“Market linkages are critical in ensuring these communities also benefit financially through sales of produce.”

*Edited by Lizwe Sebatha | Fact Checked & Proofread by Melody Mpande | Reviewed & Commissioned by Divine Dube.

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Social and Economic justice, Climate change, Hwange district

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