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Friday, 12 November 2010

Zimbabwe: EU, Comesa Train 90 Agro-Dealers

About 90 agro-dealers met in Kadoma yesterday as part of a Comesa initiative to build their business capacity.The initiative is part of a European Union-funded Comesa Regional Agro Inputs programme to improve access to agricultural inputs to farmers across the region.The Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Mr Ngoni Masoka told the dealers, "This will lead to development of national and regional networks of regional certified rural agro-dealers."He said Comesa and the EU should be commended for coming up with practical solutions to farmers' problems.In an interview afterwards, African Centre for Fertiliser Development executive director, Dr Samuel Muchena, said: "Agro- dealers are very important in the agricultural chain of production; they provide a service which ensures farmers access the right products at the right time and at the right price."Dr Muchena said production costs could be reduced through building reliable networks between manufacturers of agro-products and agro-dealers while cutting out middlemen."High costs of inputs are incurred through involvement of middleman, sometimes there are too many middlemen involved before the product reaches the agro-consumer."Unfortunately, that cost lands on the individual farmer."The president of Women in Agri-Business in Sub Sahara Africa Alliance in Zimbabwe, Mrs Theresa Mazoyo, added: "This initiative has been long overdue as agro-dealers are an important conduit providing a link between farmers and producers of agro-products."It is the proximity of agro-dealers to the individual farmer which makes them a reliable avenue of distribution."Mr Booker Murima, a Mhangura farmer, said there was need to open dialogue with all stakeholders of agro-products to ensure producers had a reliable source of inputs supplies."Such a move will reduce speculative tendencies and assist in reducing black market," he said.Agricultural economist Mr Midway Bhunu described agro-dealers as "strategic development partners".

Source: AllAfrica