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The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Alliance Trust
The Commercial Farmers’ Union (“CFU”) and the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (“ZFU”) have embarked on a joint initiative which seeks to align the two Unions and provide a platform for collaboration with a view to promoting the best interests of their members. To that end the two Unions have formed the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Alliance Trust (“ZFAT”). This is a very positive and significant development for the future of Zimbabwe’s Agricultural sector; certainly as far as the need to strengthen farmer representation is concerned.
It has long been accepted that the interests of small holder farmers and medium to large scale farmers run parallel to each other. It is envisaged that the alliance between the two Unions will successfully integrate these interests for mutual benefit. It is necessary to draw upon the respective strengths of the Unions, thereby eliminating the potential for duplication of effort, in order to benefit their respective members and in turn all farmers in Zimbabwe.
ZFAT will therefore seek out complementarities, in order to build the two Unions’ capacities to lobby for improvements in the policy and regulatory framework in Zimbabwe’s Agricultural sector and, resources permitting; to dramatically improve cost effective service delivery to the two Union’s respective memberships.
Objectives of ZFAT
The objects of ZFAT are set out in its Deed of Trust as follows:
- To improve communication, collaboration and co-operation between ZFU and CFU.
- To mobilize resources to ensure sustainability of the two unions’ operations;
- To capacitate the two farmers’ Unions to be more responsive to the needs of their members at all levels;
- To increase sustainability, productivity and profitability of the Unions’ respective members’ farming enterprises;
- To improve farmer representation at all decision making fora in the country and beyond;
- To improve and promote a favorable operational and regulatory environment in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector; and
- To increase the membership of the two Unions
In light of the historical, social and political context as regards Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, there are many advantages to bringing the two Unions together. However, many of the modalities can only be finalised by dialogue and consensus building within the Board of Trustees and the Management Committee. Nevertheless, it is clear that both Unions understand the mutually beneficial value of a genuine partnership and are resolved to make the initiative work. After all the major reason for the formation of ZFAT is to create a formal space and structure for the two Unions to interact and discuss how collaborations can best be implemented, and to undertake activities that achieve common goals.
Key Programmes and Activities of ZFAT
Arguably one of the most exciting proposed initiatives is the formation of a joint Commodities Council. This will entail forming a council representing the various commodity associations affiliated to the two Unions and any other relevant autonomous commodity associations who are major stakeholders in the Agricultural sector. Part of this process will involve the creation of a road map to merge similar commodity associations which are affiliated to the respective Unions.
It is at the level of the producers of the various commodities that integration of the interests of small and medium to large scale farmers can begin. For example, it is expected that smaller farmers will benefit from training, field days, mentoring etc which larger farmers can provide.