Zimbabwe Agricultural Competitiveness Programme
Contract Period: October 2010 - Feburary 2015
Client: U.S. Agency for International Development
Until a decade ago, Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector was flourishing. Amidst the country’s economic decline, the government’s aggressive land reform programme essentially dismantled the large-scale commercial farming sector, drastically reducing national productivity and resulting in the country becoming a net importer of food. The decline in demand from large-scale commercial farming and the mass exodus of skilled management and labour led to the deterioration of rural market infrastructure and the decline of the extension and agricultural education system.
DAI and ECIAfrica are supporting the private sector-driven revitalization of Zimbabwe’s agriculture economy. The programme’s core components include:
- ■ Strengthening Representative Institutions – to support the development of private sector engagement in policy and regulatory reform that increases competitiveness; facilitates a national dialogue on agribusiness competitiveness; and strengthens consensus of agro-industry organizations on the way forward under the Union Project Trust – an apex organization for farmers in country – which is the host of the programme.
- ■ Improving Market Infrastructure – by providing direct technical assistance and grant support to key private and public-private partnership institutions that transact, arbitrate, or regulate market information and business services to the agro-industry, such as the Zimbabwe Association of Microfinance Institutions and the Commercial Arbitration Center.
■ Improving Agrobusiness Skills, Services, Production, and Productivity – by enhancing the quality and quantity of vital business and agro-extension services to key participants in agrobusiness supply chains (from farm gate to consumer) through cascaded business service provider training-of-trainer programmes and targeted grant disbursement.
To achieve these goals within a complex and changing political landscape, ECIAfrica is consciously working through existing institutions and with the re-emerging private sector to identify needed reforms in the investment environment to promote competitiveness in agrobusinesses. The programme relies heavily on supporting local experts and institutions, tapping into the Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa, and incorporating local bodies directly into the planning, oversight, and monitoring of programme interventions.