How We Got Here

During 2007 and 2008 SNV Netherlands Development Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) co-hosted three workshops on smallholder contract farming in Harare and Bulawayo. The workshops were a considerable success and attracted good representation from private sector, government, NGO’s, donors, farmer’s organizations and financial institutions. One of the outputs of these meetings was the recommendation by delegates that a platform be established to allow for the interaction of stakeholders interested in the development of smallholder markets.

The inaugural meeting of the Market Linkage Working Group (MLWG) was held in July 2008 in Harare. Shortly after this a steering committee was formed to direct the activities of the group, an arrangement which was maintained until April 2011. During this two-and-a-half year period activities were funded by SNV and the steering committee grew to incorporate twenty-five organisations. Activities included seminars, studies, coordination, lobbying and facilitation of market linkages between companies and NGOs. The concept of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust (ZADT), first developed by the MLWG committee, now oversees the implementation of the multi-million dollar CREATE fund co-funded by DANIDA and DFID.

Funding challenges during 2010 forced the group to consider alternative structures. Formation of an association was suggested as the best solution with a subscription based funding model.  FAO provided funding during the transition from working group to an association which was formerly constituted in April 2011. The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in June 2011. Membership at the last AGM held in April 2014 stood at 37 organisations, 40% of which were from the private sector with the balance representing donor and NGOs. Importantly, the group is chaired by a representative of the private sector since it is these players who are the driving force behind markets.

Caption: Small holder farmers and vendors