The Vendors Initiatives for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) conducted a multi stakeholder dialogue on market access for small holder farmers and informal traders in Bulawayo on the 22nd March 2022 were a total of 45 people (28 females and 27 males) from Chipinge, Goromonzi, Matobo, Gokwe and Binga participated.
The meeting sought to interrogate challenges faced small holder farmers and informal traders with regards to market linkages and getting the competitive urge in local, reginal and international trade. It also further deliberated on government’s policy environment and how it can be improved in order to enhance market access for small holder farmers and informal traders.
In partnership with ZIMCODD and BVTA, VISET successfully convened the dialogue allowing participants to go through the policy changes on market access since 1980 to date. Participants interrogated the developments and how policies such as ESAP made changes on the welfare of workers to include those in the farming and informal sector.
Speaking on the sidelines of the activity, Gillian Chinzete the Programmes manager at VISET highlighted the organisations commitment to facilitate dialogue on issues of market access, tax justice and the importance of informal traders’ participation in local level policy formulation processes. She mentioned that the organisation is working with small holder farmers and informal from the various districts as a way of ensuring well-coordinated efforts in influencing policy.
One of the participants who is a village head Mr Mimbo Siansundu of Binga, from Mudimba Belshadzzar village said that informal traders from Binga are facing various challenges as they are still doing barter trade because they do not have direct access to markets for their fish due to the exorbitant licensing fees they are expected to pay. He also narrated how the middle man is exploiting the fisherman’s especially those from Bulawayo, he also went on further narrating how the trade take place either they come with a 2kg sugar among other basics necessities in exchange of fish.
Issues of poor road networks, limited access to vending stalls, lack of access to markets, poor market linkages and exorbitant licence fees were noted as hindrances to the participants enjoyment of profits from businesses. The stakeholders highlighted that price are typically based on a combination of supply and demand, trader cartels and customer loyalties. Participants agreed that there is need for coordinated efforts amongst informal traders and small holder farmers to have gender responsive budgets from the various local authorities and these should be sensitive to the needs of the key informal sector players. They proposed that the government of Zimbabwe should invest in local infrastructure, improve on information dissemination, engage the key players in the informal economy in policy formulation and deliberately enhance the skills of the small holder farmers and informal sector players as a way of enhancing market access and improving productivity.
Meeting finding and deliberations will be used to develop a policy brief and an advocacy strategy to guide the organisation as they engaged in the lobby ad advocacy initiatives around issues of market access in Zimbabwe.