THE Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will tomorrow host an International Symposium on Contract Farming and Other Inclusive Business Models.
The symposium comes at a time when the government of Zimbabwe is encouraging value chain players in the agriculture sector to embrace contract farming as way to secure raw materials for their operations.
Government runs a contract farming model dubbed command agriculture which provides inputs to farmers to grow a variety of crops.
However, in a media advisory note FAO says there is inadequate evidence that supports the claim that contract farming is a responsible business model as farmers often find themselves at the losing end of the agreement.
“Contract farming is often regarded as an inclusive business model because it engages small-scale producers with high-value agribusinesses.
In principle, contract farming can improve family farmers’ access to markets and boost their incomes while ensuring that agribusinesses have a stable supply of produce that meets their quality standards.
However, there continues to be inadequate evidence supporting the claim that contract farming is a responsible business model. Furthermore, as with any contractual relationship, there are potential threats, and sometimes farmers find themselves on the losing side”.
The International Symposium is organized within the framework of the FAO Umbrella Programme Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems will further attempt to gather evidence and debate on contract farming schemes and inclusive business models (IBM) in the Global South.
It will also seek to address the major issues of unequal power relations, conflicts between the firm and farmer and the implications of contract farming on food security and livelihoods of the farmers.
Already several companies have undertaken to support farmers grow crops in the coming summer cropping season.
Among the crops that have attracted interest from contractors include tobacco, wheat, maize and soyabean.