Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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‘High export fees, red tape frustrate farmers’

‘High export fees, red tape frustrate farmers’



Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
FARMERS have raised concern over cumbersome export documentation they said was expensive and proved a barrier to competitive trade.

This emerged during a Dubai market survey information dissemination workshop conducted in Bulawayo on Tuesday where farmers called for a downward review of certification fees and establishment of a decentralised one-stop-shop to conduct the certification process.

The country’s regulations require farmers to obtain an export permit, registration with the Agricultural Market Authority and a sanitary certificate from plant quarantine department. These cost $150 and $500 per year for individuals and companies with a $30 fee per consignment and $70 for three months respectively. Farmers who attended the gathering said that the fees were a burden to small holder operators who are trying to break into the export market.

“Exports are critical to the country’s economic revival. Authorities should remove the many barriers to export. The costs are a bit high because most people haven’t really started making much money.

“At a later stage when most people have the capacity to do so then maybe the costs can be revised upwards but for now a reduction to some of the fees is needed to facilitate exports,” said Mr Sibusiso Nsimbi, a small holder farmer from Esigodini.

Another farmer, Mr Willie Makumbe concurred, adding that the documentation process was prohibitive as most of it has to be done in Harare.

He said this was a major cost driver as it adds costs onto the already costly documentation process.

“It limits the farmer because every time you have to do this you now have to rush to Harare, which is expensive. They should open an office here (Bulawayo) to improve the ease of doing business. Farmers are dis-incentivised because they are not even sure that if they go to Harare they will get that permit. The processes are many and they consume time and money.

“Permits should be decentralised even up to district level or be put online so that everything becomes much easier,” said Mr Makumbe.

Agriculture Market Authority (AMA) director, Mr Maxwell Chikanda, acknowledged farmers’ concerns and said the authority was working on improving the process as part of Government initiative on improving the ease of doing business.

“The aspect of ease of doing business has been accepted in principle in Government circles. There are a number of initiatives that have been taken to ensure that it becomes much more easier to do business. Various consultations and different levels are being done and the Government is listening to people on the ground and taking their recommendations into account,” he said.

Last year, the country was ranked number 159 out of 170 countries on ease of doing business and Government has been on a drive to improve that by amending and upgrading systems in its various departments to create an investor friendly environment. The measures are expected to improve investment and reduce barriers to trade that come with too much red-tape.



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