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Dutch companies to assist Zim farmers

SIX Dutch companies are set to provide expertise to Zimbabwean small-scale farmers to scale up production and offer a lucrative export market, Dutch ambassador to Zimbabwe Gera Sneller, has said.

By Fidelity Mhlanga

Sneller told businessdigest on Wednesday this week a contract was set to be signed in the next two months to help horticultural growers to improve their produce and stamp out exporting hurdles.

“We have identified six Dutch companies who will bring in their expertise in improving the production processes of growers in Zimbabwe. We are hoping to sign the contract in the next two months,” Sneller said on the sidelines of the signing ceremony between Netherlands’ Pum and Zimtrade.

Sneller, who would not be drawn to divulge the identity of the Dutch companies as well as the monetary value of the contract, is optimistic the move will boost bilateral trade between Netherlands and Zimbabwe, which presently was at a low ebb. The violation of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements in which Dutch farmers have not been compensated also has been discouraging investment in Zimbabwe.

Sneller said trade relations and investment relations are weak due to Zimbabwe’s economic problems of the past 15 years.

She added Dutch investors were watching economic policies in Zimbabwe with keen interest to invest in the country.

“At the moment, I see growing interest from Dutch companies in Zimbabwe.

“I was at our ambassador conference two weeks ago (in Netherlands) where we have a day with the private sector. For the past two years, all the companies who talked to me were focusing on Zambia because I am also ambassador there.

But during that conference, all the representatives of the companies all of a sudden wanted to talk to me about opportunities in Zimbabwe,” Sneller said.

“This shows that for Dutch investors, Zimbabwe still has potential. l feel they are still quiet hesitant and are waiting for signals from the Zimbabwe government to prove that Zimbabwe is open for investment. The interest is there and we will continue to support government efforts through assisting Zimtrade.”

This also comes at a time Zimtrade signed a memorandum of understanding with a Netherlands non-profit organisation, Pum to assist small to medium sized farmers to become key drivers in the growth of exports.

According to Zimtrade chairperson Lance Jena, the memorandum will help knowledge transfer in planting production, harvesting, post-harvest management, processing as well as linkages to strategic markets. The contribution of horticultural exports reached US$143 million in 1999/2000 before plummeting to US$23,4 million in 2014/2015.

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