Harare Agricultural Show turned into flea-market

Itai Dzamara

THE absence of major players in the industrial and farming sectors is set to cause a further decline in standards at this year’s Harare Agricultural Show. With only a month to g

o, the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered that big business has once again turned its back on the exhibition.


It is also likely that there will be no international exhibitors at the 93rd edition of the show.


The animals section will be devoid of any activity due to the absence of cattle and pigs. Animals have been absent from the show for the past two years as a result of the destruction of the livestock industry by the government’s land reform programme.


Zimbabwe Agricultural Society office manager Robin Taylor confirmed the absence of cattle at this year’s event.


“The show will be from Monday, August 25 to Saturday, August 30,” Taylor said. “A total of 380 exhibitors have booked stands to date. We expect some 500 stand holders. There won’t be cattle this year.”


Last year 374 exhibitors were at the event, up slightly from 345 the previous year. In the years before the damaging agrarian reform programme, the show used to record an average of 600 exhibitors, mainly large companies and foreign firms.


Sources involved in the planning of the event revealed that small indigenous entrepreneurs would dominate this year’s event as was the case last year. Out of the 374 exhibitors at last year’s show, more than 50% were flea-market traders as well as food vendors.


Only two international exhibitors attended the show last year: from Iran and Zambia.


Independent economist John Robertson predicted gloom at the Exhibition Park next month.


“There is very little to show,” said Robertson. “Without livestock, and with the manufacturing industry recording a further decline, there will be very few exhibitors. At the same time the cost of running the show will be very high. The situation will be gloomy,” he said.


MDC agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela said the show would be a non-event.


“The situation does not present a conducive atmosphere for the staging of a successful show,” said Gasela. “Every sector of the economy, particularly commercial farming and manufacturing, has collapsed. This year’s edition will decline in standards from the previous one.”


Many players in industry and commerce have either scaled down operations or virtually closed because of the economic shrinkage. The acute shortage of foreign currency and price controls saw the closure of more than 400 companies last year.