The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has revealed that the 21 day lockdown has entrenched inequalities in the agricultural sector whereby small holder farmers have limited access to the market.
According to the ZELA Agricultural Sector Update, farmers were stranded with their produce especially perishables such as green vegetables and tomatoes during the lockdown.
“Marketing and distribution of fresh farm produce was severely impacted by COVID-19, in the first week of the national lockdown, fresh farm produce markets like Mbare Musika in Harare were completely closed.
“During this period, farmers were stranded with their produce especially perishables such as green vegetables and tomatoes,” reads the report.
The report adds that law enforcement agents raided the Sakubva Market in Mutare and destroyed three tonnes of produce.
“Law enforcement agents raided the Sakubva Market in Mutare and burnt all the produce that was confiscated from the raid,” reads the report.
“This left many farmers and vendors aggravated as most of their produce was lost to the raid. Three tonnes worth of vegetables were lost in the raid.
“The produce raided belonged to more than 300 farmers and it included tomatoes, cabbages, green vegetables, lemons to mention a few.
“On the 7th of April the government announced that it was re-opening all fresh farm produce markets subject to availability of preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19,” reads the report.
The report states that the flower industry has suffered a lot as both local and international markets have been shut down.
“Without a doubt COVID-19 has brought to the fore the inequalities in the agriculture sector.
“Although small holder farmers tried to reduce the losses from decaying farm produce through sun drying, most of them will not recover from the losses sustained.
“In comparison, large scale commercial farmers may have retained access to markets as most retail outlets continued to receive supplies of farm produce from mostly larger suppliers who do not rely on fresh farm produce markets.
“The severe impacts of the limited access to markets will therefore be felt largely by small-holder farmers in comparison to large scale actors in the fresh farm produce value chains.
Access to international markets largely remained constrained.
“The flower industry has suffered a lot as both local and international markets have been shut down.
“Events such as weddings which usually consume a lot of flowers have been banned. Further, the international markets have been closed as lockdown and restrictive border measures have been implemented in Europe countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands among others.
“To minimise on loses, some farmers have taken to drying flowers for scent extraction and some farmers are leaving the flowers to dry in the field for seed,” said ZELA.