Value Addition an Opportunity to Innovate and Invest
Agriculture remains one of the best alternatives for the economic growth in Sub Saharan Africa. In Zimbabwe where the economy is continuously falling down, the opportunities for young people lie under their ability to invest in skills that add value to the home grown produce and local markets.
With the greater percentage of land in Zimbabwe under the control of indigenous people, the resuscitation of industries banks on the capacity of the local agribusiness to enter the market and get rid of any kind of barriers of entry and competitors through “value addition and beneficiation”.
Value addition to agricultural products which is merely the process of increasing the economic value and consumer appeal of any commodity is an opportunity to empower grassroots communities in Zimbabwe who are currently overlying on small scale subsistence farming. Zimbabwe has been losing a lot in exports as a result of lack of skill and capacity to process agrifoods and produced raw materials into more valuable and competent products across world markets.
Investing in innovation and value addition is an important concept and approach in today’s business environment where innovation in farming and agrifood processing are important to remain competitive and optimize returns from an enterprise. It may entail producing a commodity for a special market; changing the form of the commodity before it is marketed; changing how a commodity is packaged and labeled for the market; changing the way a commodity is marketed; or even adding a new enterprise to an existing one.
In Zimbabwe it is however a challenge to many farmers whose capacity to maximize on the available land is even questionable. As a result of the economic hardships, very few farmers have the capacity to procure up-to-date equipment to use for the innovativeness and full production capacity.
Value addition creates jobs, which is critically needed at this time when employment has been shrinking due to the economic crisis. Despite the opportunities and monetary benefits associated with increasing value of locally produced agri-goods there is inadequate knowledge of appropriate value-adding technologies coupled with poor infrastructure facilities and the absence of coherent policies to support such an undertaking, especially in rural areas.
The government of Zimbabwe should commit itself towards supporting farmers through infrastructure development, capacity building and policies that attracts especially young and innovative youth in Zimbabwe.
Karen Mangwiro is a BA (Hon) Development Studies student at Great Zimbabwe University and is currently working as an intern at O4Z Trust. She writes in her own capacity