Zimbabwe’s Potato Farmers Seek Government Help for Greenfield Projects
Zimbabwe’s potato producers say efforts to add value to their produce are being frustrated by financial institutions’ reluctance to fund greenfield projects and they have appealed for government intervention, to help them set up processing plants.
Ronald Museka, the Potato Industry of Zimbabwe chairman, said local financial institutions were only eager to fund the growing of potatoes, but farmers wanted to ramp up value addition and explore export markets. Museka said growers viewed value addition as the next logical step in the growth of the industry and appealed to the authorities to facilitate the setting-up of new ventures.
“What we are noticing as farmers is that we are producing raw materials for industry and other sectors, but we need value addition,” he said. “With potatoes, we want to produce frozen chips and fresh chips for the market, or crisps straight from the farm. That is going to create a lot of employment and value for the farmer and will also create opportunities for others.”
Museka said potato farmers could only enter the export market by adding value to their produce. He denounced the fact that financial institutions are reluctant to give support to farmers that want to go beyond the growing of potatoes.
“The greatest challenge we are facing as farmers is that when we approach the banks for funding, they are only interested in supporting existing farming activities based on the farmer’s track record. The moment you say you want to venture into value addition through a green project, they are not interested. The banks are scared; they don’t want to get involved in new ventures.” Museka said.