Beneficiary of land reform hits hard on exports

The Chronicle

Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter

A 64-YEAR-OLD farmer from Gweru, who is benefiting from the land reform programme, Ms. Matilda Manhambo, has made huge strides in penetrating the European Union market as she exported only 18 tonnes of peas to the Netherlands.

Despite the existence of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States and its Western allies as punishment for the government’s decision to redistribute land, Ms Manhambo says that since venturing into farming in 2006 at Kufumaishungu Farm, she never looked back and realized her empowerment. rather dream.

Former colonial master Britain, in protest at land redistribution, has pressured its allies to gang up on Zimbabwe with punitive economic and travel measures, which continue to frustrate exports and new investments.

However, with land measuring 196 hectares, Ms. Manhambo says she has worked hard to produce a variety of crops for local and export markets. It now employs 21 people and benefits from a 99-year lease from the government as security of ownership.

“I was given the farm in 2006 as part of the land reform program and that’s when I started farming, starting with livestock and later venturing into agriculture. ‘horticulture. I ventured into the export market four years ago, starting with peas,” she said. Company chronicle in an interview in Bulawayo where she attended a recent meeting of major exporters in the southern region.

Ms. Manhambo’s achievement is a unique reflection of how women can also distinguish themselves economically by contributing to national production and creating more job opportunities. She said when she took over the farm in 2006 it was idle with no infrastructure, but to date she has managed to make it productive.

“When I was assigned the farm it was just a brushy area but now I have the infrastructure,” she said.

Ms. Manhambo says her journey to exporting has been facilitated through exposure and learning from the national trade promotion body, ZimTrade, which has included her in its capacity building programs. This allowed him to acquire a key certification necessary to venture into the competitive export market.

“I had to do a Global Gap certificate for the peas. ZimTrade is now firmly guiding and training me to become the ‘Next She Exporter’ and I regularly attend their training programs,” said Ms. Manhambo.

“ZimTrade helps us with marketing studies and keeps us involved in foreign markets. I’m happy to be involved in the export market because as long as you have a contract, you don’t have to look for markets.

“I export to the Netherlands. This year I had 18 tons of peas and I intend to export more. On one hectare of peas, the minimum is six tons so I still have to export more.

The “Next She Exporter” program targets women entrepreneurs in various sectors of the economy, with the exception of mining, fuels and electricity. It is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and is expected to grow women entrepreneurs and contribute to Zimbabwe’s competitiveness in regional and global markets.

According to the trade promotion body, there will be one-on-one mentorship with seasoned women entrepreneurs.

Launched in March this year, the program also aims to address one of the biggest obstacles women face in exporting, namely access to markets and aims to increase trade links and opportunities. networking opportunities for women while stimulating community growth. thanks to the development of entrepreneurship throughout the country.

“When ZimTrade officials come to audit for the Global Gap certificate, they have to see the infrastructure. I was encouraged to build infrastructure and it is an achievement for me,” Manhambo said.

Mathilde Manhambo

According to her, the main challenge she faces is that she does not export directly but uses agents who sometimes delay payments.

“The only challenge is that I am not able to export directly, I use agents and some of the agents are slow to make payments. If I was exporting directly, I could have been far away,” he said. she stated.

In March this year, she added flowers and hopes to earn more dividends from the business.

“In Gweru, the weather is good for horticulture and thanks to the Global Gap Certificate, I am also growing under agreed standard conditions,” Ms. Manhambo said.

“As a farmer, people trust women and always think women are simple. So that means I have a huge opportunity to get clients.

The business is not without its challenges, however, as it encounters power cuts, funding constraints and a lack of access to the local market.

“Shedding is a big challenge. Power cuts make irrigation difficult. Funding is another issue. Banks have money, but it is too expensive for farmers to borrow,” Ms. Manhambo said.

She said that in the local market, the big challenge is the flooding of products in the market.

“People from Harare come with trucks to Gweru so we don’t get good value for our products. Also, when we hire big stores to supply them with our products, they tell us to apply from Harare where they are headquartered,” Ms Manhambo said.

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