Local small-holder farmers have received a major boost after an international agriculture concern pledged to support sweet potato production in the country for export.
The international fresh produce company which has a local subsidiary is mulling supporting the local production of more than 60000 kilogrammes of sweet potatoes per month which are on demand in European countries and other markets.
Speaking at a workshop with women farmers in the capital, SimFresh International Managing Director, Morestaff Chibanda said sweet potatoes which are grown in almost every rural household in the country have a large market outside the country and can be commercially exploited to generate foreign currency for small-scale farmers.
“We are trying to see how best we can produce sweet potatoes for export to regional and local markets. Women in Agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa Alliance has the women farmers and they don’t have access to lucrative markets which is where we are coming in,” said Chibanda.
The agriculture concern will work with farmers mobilised by the Women in Agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa Alliance (WASAA) in a bid to boost the capacity of rural women farmers.
WASAA Project Coordinator, Theresa Mazoyo expressed optimism that the initiative will enhance market-driven production and the optimum use of farm-land.
“We are looking at 1150 hectares per farmers and 100 women producing so the capacity is definitely there to commercially supply sweet potatoes,” she said.
Participants in the sweet potato production venture welcomed the initiative as accessing lucrative markets has been a major challenge for small-holder farmers.
Terms of agreement with the local farmers are currently under discussion and a memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed soon.