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Climatic, Economic Shocks Weaken Farmers’ Resilience

Worsening climatic conditions and the deteriorating economic environment in the country have aggravated the plight of small holder farmers who are now finding farming business less viable, agriculture stakeholders have said.

Speaking at a learning event on enhancing community enterprise activities in the current macro-economic environment hosted by the Livelihoods and Food Security Program (LFSP), various market actors stressed the extent at which natural and economic factors have weakened small holder farmers’ resilience.

This has affected quality of products from the agriculture sector.

“We get 80-90 percent of marketed beef in Zimbabwe from communal farmers but there are various challenges and one of them has to do with availability of proper pastures and affordable feed to finish off these animals before they go to the slaughter houses,” Dumisani Muringagomo of MC Meats, a local abattoir and meat processor told 263Chat Business on the sidelines.

He said most cattle rearing regions have seen pasture quality deteriorate owing to lesser rainfall as climatic change effects bite.

The situation has been worsened by the deteriorating economic situation that has rendered most farmers unable to afford the high cost of procuring stock feed.

The resultant effect is according to Muringagomo has been the flooding of abattoirs with malnourished animals by smallholder farmers.

“A lot of farmers are forced to sell animals that are malnourished so we at the abattoirs are pained because we end up acting like irresponsible actors within the industry but we are forced to slaughter these animals, small animals that we know could add value but we are forced to slaughter,” Muringagomo added.

Most farmers have since started to adopt new strategies to mitigate climatic and economic drawbacks.

Value addition of sunflower seed into oil, commodity aggregation, multi crop shelling, tillage services and multi-crop shelling are some of the adopted models to enhance efficiency and profits.

But monetary changes and inflation in the economy have not spared farmers from under-payments and breach of contractual agreements.

“We are having a challenge in paying farmers as per contractual agreement. Inflation has eroded values and in most case we cannot access hard cash from the banks yet farmers require hard cash as payment. This has made our relations really sour,” Glen Lee, a commodities traders said.

Access to finance has not been favorable as most micro-financial institutions are getting wary of lending to small holder farmers in the wake of uncertainties in the local economy.

The LFSP is in its second phase of up scaling the various models which local market actors and farmers can explore to build resilience in the current harsh economic environment.

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