FOUR farmers’ organisations have combined forces, launching the Federation of Farmers Union (FoFU), as they move to lobby for the growth of the agricultural sector.
The organisations that have amalgamated are the National Farmers Union (NFU), Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) and Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU).
The launch of the FoFU formalises the signing of a deed of trust by the NFU, ZFU, CFU and ZCFU which was done in September 2016 with the intention to better lobby for the agricultural sector.
Speaking to NewsDay on the side lines of the official launch yesterday in Harare, FoFU chairman Wonder Chabikwa said forming the group would be cost cutting across the agricultural sector.
“We saw that we were so segregated in our efforts. We did not see our efforts succeeding if four bodies were going to talk about the same thing. We realised that we needed to have one voice so that our voice becomes stronger. We had four different voices but they were not strong hence our effectiveness in lobbying was not good enough hence the decision to have one strong voice,” he said.
He said that all the stakeholders agreed that the agricultural sector needed to be lobbied collectively as one group to tackle challenges with financing being the major one.
FoFU has set five objectives going forward: organise farmers and build consensus amongst them on agricultural policies; unify farmer representation strengthening the farmers’ voices; and to capacitate the farmers unions’ service responsiveness by improving communication, collaboration and co-operation.
It also aims to lobby for a suitable operational and regulatory environment and effectively mobilise resources; and have a solid and consistent voice contributing to the agricultural sector.
According to the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, the banking sector has allocated 20% of their credit to agriculture with the hope to increase it further.
However, farmers have been complaining that they hardly got any finance from banks that say credit to the sector averages about $1 billion annually.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the challenges being faced by the agricultural sector could not be left to government alone and could only effectively be addressed if all stakeholders participated.
“You have been crying about the challenges that the devil of your operations, namely, unprofitability. I urge you to effectively use this body in pursuance of your listed objectives. Farming is a business and business is war. Fight this war with intent and purpose,” Made said in a speech read by Agriculture permanent secretary Ringson Chitsiko.
“Farming produces the raw materials for our industries and reduces the pressure on the fiscus by reducing or eliminating the need for imports. This frees foreign currency of the importation of things that are critical to the nation but cannot be produced locally.”