ZimTrade gets onion ex­pert for lo­cal grow­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Harare Bureau

ZIMTRADE has en­gaged Dutch na­tional Hans Van Leeuwen, a se­nior onion ex­pert with over 45 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the pro­duc­tion of the veg­etable, to pro­vide ex­pert ad­vice to lo­cal grow­ers.

The en­gage­ment is part of the projects’ ac­tiv­i­ties stip­u­lated in the Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU) signed be­tween ZimTrade and PUM Nether­lands in April 2016, where PUM shall pro­vide tech­ni­cal in­ter­ven­tions as well as ex­pert ad­vice to small and medium scale farm­ers in the hor­ti­cul­tural sec­tor.

The in­ter­ven­tions are aimed at en­hanc­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and ex­port com­pet­i­tive­ness through on-farm train­ing.

The ex­pert, who is cur­rently in Zim­babwe, is ex­plor­ing and as­sess­ing onion pro­duc­tion, with the aim of in­tro­duc­ing a pool sys­tem.

A pool sys­tem is com­mon prac­tice in the Dutch agri­cul­ture sys­tem, whereby grow­ers will bring in their pro­duce to­gether.

The pro­duce is graded and stored in a ware­house and will be sold dur­ing off sea­son pe­ri­ods when they fetch pre­mium prices.

Ac­cord­ing to the ex­pert, the crit­i­cal points in this pool con­cept is to main­tain a good onion qual­ity in and off sea­son.

The idea is to set up three onion pools of 800-1 000 tonnes of pro­duce per an­num across the coun­try.

Mem­bers of the pool can sell part of their harvest di­rectly on the mar­ket and de­liver the rest to the ware­house pool, where it is graded and stocked in crates.

Vice Pres­i­dent of the Hor­ti­cul­ture Mar­keters As­so­ci­a­tion God­win Mushore, said the con­sump­tion of onions in Zim­babwe is around 15 000-20 000 tonnes per year, with lo­cal pro­duc­tion around 7 000 tonnes.

He, how­ever, pointed that most grow­ers in Zim­babwe do not have the ap­pro­pri­ate knowl­edge as well as fa­cil­i­ties to store their crop for com­mer­cial pur­poses.

“These in­ter­ven­tions could as­sist lo­cal grow­ers to boost their pro­duc­tion and be­ing able to con­sis­tently sup­ply both the lo­cal and ex­port mar­ket,” he added.

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