ESTABLISHED local and international companies have shunned this yearâ€™s edition of the Harare Agricultural Show (HAS), leaving small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), government ministries, parastatals and banks as the only exhibitors.
A visit to the Exhibition Park this week showed that ministries such as Local Government, Energy, and Education, had taken up space to display school uniforms, textbooks, and model rural houses.
Parastatals like the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company had on display 30 seater Swaraj buses that were part of President Robert Mugabeâ€™s presidential campaign in the run up to the March 29 and the June 27 presidential election runoff.
Exhibition halls such as Home Industries and Rajiv Gandhi, which in previous years used to be packed with indigenous entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers displaying their produce, were nearly empty save for a few interior dÃ©cor exhibitors.
However, the Harare Show Society (HSS) this week said the number of exhibitors had gone up from 469 last year to 500 this year because of the increased presence of SMEs.
Tsitsi Moyo, a Mbare woman, who had taken her kids to the show, told the Zimbabwe Independent that she was disappointed to find out that most of the exhibition space had been taken up by government ministries that did not have on display any interesting material for her children.
She said: “I am so disappointed that after struggling to raise enough money to bring my kids here we find empty stands and government ministries with information which is not exciting to school going children.”
The annual event, which started on Monday, has been marred by a low turnout, which the HSS spokesperson Heather Madombwe blamed on the economic crisis in the country.
“The annual event has not lost its traditional appeal, but the public are failing to access cash from banks as well as many other challenges facing the nation,” Madombwe said.
By Wednesday, only 11 332 people had visited the Exhibition Park compared to over 50 000 people during the same period last year.
The current cash shortages and the high cost of food at the Exhibition Park forced many people to bring packed lunches from home.
Mugabe will for the second year in a row officially open the show today.
By Lucia Makamure