Small scale horticulture producers in Honde Valley in Mutasa district have had to make do with huge losses as their farm produce rot on roadsides due to high transportation costs by truck owners.
Farmers said transporters were rejecting the local currency opting for US dollar to ferry their produce to bigger markets in Harare, Mutare and Bulawayo.
Due to abundant water supplies and good climate in the Eastern Highlands, most farmers here produce guavas, tomatoes, bananas, avocados, pineapples, potatoes, sugarcane to mention a few for domestic consumption and export.
Since the introduction of the national lockdown against the spread of coronavirus in March this year, farmers have found it difficult to transport their produces to markets for lack of access to foreign currency.
“Transport is now a challenge to move our produce to the market. Transporters are rejecting local currency opting for United States dollar.
“Our produce is rotting by roadsides because transporters are not willing to accept bond notes,” said another banana producer.
The farmers said transporters were charging US$7 per 50 kilogramme of fresh produce to the market.
Another farmer, Gift Mandiopera said life has become unbearable during the lockdown period as transporters were taking advantage of the situation to rip them off.
“Life has become so difficult for smallholder farmers because transporters are demanding US dollars to ferry produce to the market. Unfortunately, those who buy our produce use local currency, leaving us in between,” said Mandiopera.
Transporters who spoke to this publication said most fuel stations were now selling the petroleum product in foreign currency and it was no longer wise to trade in local currency.
“We can’t charge in local currency because we are buying fuel and spare parts in foreign currency. There are very few garages selling fuel in local currency,” said Mike Kamhuka, a haulage truck driver.
Other transporters suggested that instead of complaining about high costs of transport, farmers should instead pass the cost to the consumers.