By Lynette T. Simango
It took a blink of an eye for Covid-19 to invade Zimbabwe. It rattled and devastated the market a great deal. The government was left with no option but to lock-down the country since the pandemic has caused more harm than good to the entire Universe. The preparedness of the farmer to survive such unfavourable conditions, could now depend on how innovative they were. With many thinking of a market as just the physical place, it wasn’t surprising how disappointed farmers were when Mbare musika among other fresh markets faced the scourge of unplanned closure. It was now the survival of the fittest but was agriculture in any position to survive or to face its demise? Unlike other sectors where the product are durable, agriculture was different because of how perishable its produces are. Despite all that, farmers were forced to comply with these new rules, which then left a hoard of farmers who plied at Mbare Musika stranded and jobless
With all the industrious work on the land which involved colossal amounts of money and other inputs injected therein, the farmers could not just lie idle and watch as they submerged in this quagmire. Zimbabwe later reopened fresh markets after classifying agriculture under essential services and the news was sweet music to their ears. Though they were to reopen under strict regulations of sensitization, social distancing and wearing protective masks, consumers were advised to keep indoors as a way of encouraging social distancing. This has gravely affected buying and selling of fresh produces. This was going to lead to two things – either the consumer was going to starve and become malnutrition or the farmer’s produce would fall into a state of decay and thrown away in dumping areas.
Due to instabilities in environment ,which resulted in the disruption in demand and supply, a desire to find new ways of thinking and new business approach ignited and it’s surprising how some farmers quickly adopted. They say when the push comes to shove, drastic measures need to be taken. We have seen a recent increase in use online platforms to generate income. On our website at www.vaMudhumeni.org visit out Roots farmers market store under the buy and sell tab. Our network of key players in Agriculture and farmers continues to grow every single day, as such we bring buyers and sellers together and provide a platform where they can negotiate transactions together
This ability to adjust to so much uncertainty showed how resilient farmers really are. As well as their willingness to adjust to the abrupt and unpredictable changes within the economy. Kuda Musasiwa’s, Fresh in a box, some fresh fruits and vegetables delivery businesses emerged in a bid to bridge the gap between producers and consumers. The new normalcy had begun where they got to interact with their customers online. Another delivery business which emerged in the last 2 months was QuickFresh and all it took were 8 people who had one vision to come together and kick start the business.
The good thing to such a business arena is that it is open to everyone- there is no barrier to entry. What is required of a farmer or any other person is to have proper registration documents, the product and logistics. However, these only will not seal the deal as there is also the need to market you goods and services and let customers know you have something to offer. Our website www.vaMudhumeni,org as well as all our social media platforms we offers such services. Online marketing is a business opportunity many farmers are yet to venture into and explore. This will not only change their perspective of a market but will make them understand that it is that point where producers and consumers interact that brings in money- whether physical or virtual.