Zimbabwean tomato farmers turn to Mozambican markets

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SOME farmers in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts are smuggling tomatoes into Mozambique in search of lucrative markets, the Manica Post has established.

The crop is in high demand in the neighbouring country.

Owing to the two districts’ proximity to Mozambique and the porous border line, smugglers are taking advantage to smuggle the crop.

A check by this publication showed that Mozambique relies on Zimbabwe for its winter crop requirements.

Espungabeira and Matshazi in Mozambique provide the most lucrative markets.

The bulk of the tomatoes are coming from Birchenough, Nyanyadzi and Musikavanhu irrigation schemes.

Farmers who spoke to The Manica Post said they are turning elsewhere because the crop had flooded the local market and forcing them to sell it for a song.

They said some companies that had contracted them to grow tomatoes failed to honour their promises to buy from them. This resulted in the crop rotting on farms.

A farmer at Nyanyadzi Irrigation Scheme, Mr Lungisani Siwela, said: “We had a very good crop but some of the companies that had contracted us let us down as they did not buy from us. The tomatoes then flooded the local market. For example, a bucket is presently fetching around US$3 or R50 and this is very little considering production costs. Tomatoes are perishable and this has forced us to look for markets in Mozambique.”

He added that some Mozambicans are buying the crop in bulk for resale.

The tomatoes are also being used for barter trade.

Chipinge Agritex officer Mr Tapiwanashe Chagwesha said farmers must consider timing when growing cash crops.

“Tomatoes are in demand all year round. However, scores of farmers grow the crop during winter and this pushes supply up. This may result in losses being incurred, unlike in the post-winter season when they are scarce,” he said.

Chipinge District police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Jowert Kamera warned farmers against smuggling the crop.

He said no arrests have been made so far.