Local appropriation

No substitution of local stakeholders

Investment in local expertise and human resources

Pooling of problems and solutions / Economies of scale

Demand-driven intervention / Cost sharing

Participatory approach

South-South cooperation

Export as factor of modernization

Structured relationship between local value chain operators

Cross-cutting focus on youth and gender


This provides a simple framework for continuous improvement, focusing on the business case so that adopting good practice not only facilitates market access, but genuinely helps suppliers run more efficient, profitable and resilient businesses. It consists of three central elements:



COLEACP’s strategy and activities for Zimbabwe in the framework of the Fit For Market programme are based on information collected via two missions, in June 2017 and April 2019, along with requests for intervention and continuous communication with stakeholders (public and private). The first mission included a first presentation of the Fit For Market programme to a large group of representatives from the private sector, carried out with the support of ZimTrade (the national trade development and promotion organisation).

Since July 2021, COLEACP counts with the support of a focal point in the country (National Relay), Mr William Zirebwa. The services provided by the national relay mainly contribute to facilitate relations with the various stakeholders in both public and private sectors, particularly at decision-making level and assist the COLEACP team in ensuring that the activities of the Association’s programmes are consistent with other projects and programmes implemented by other organisations whose objectives, or part of whose objectives, relate to the same field of activity.

Strategy and activities in the country:

  • For larger commercial farms, the focus will be on continuing work towards compliance with export markets (mainly UK) in terms of food safety and social compliance. Companies will continue receiving support to improve efficiency of the packing process, to set up viable business models, and to become more competitive.
  • For newly established companies and commercial farms that have not yet exported to the EU, training will be provided on the business model for export horticulture.
  • For private and public stakeholders, group training will focus on pest and disease management in line with EU requirements (maximum residue levels, quarantine pests) and with the new EU plant health regulation.
  • For structures working with and representing small-scale producers, capacity building will enable the transfer of knowledge on good agricultural practices, key business skills and requirements for high-end markets in the area of food safety and social compliance.
  • During 2020, COLEACP responded to a request from the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU), the largest farmers’ interest organisation in the country, to support its training unit and technical staff to strengthen their capacity in good agricultural practices, with a focus on food safety and quality management, along with awareness of quality standards. Through blended on-site and remote learning (enhanced in response to Covid-19 restrictions), and via COLEACP’s distinctive cascading training system, the training will have a sizeable positive impact on Zimbabwe’s horticultural sector. Cascading training means that information is transmitted from the trainee acting as first relay through successive layers among the populations of workers, producers and members of their communities. Further support will continue to be given through COLEACP programmes.
  • COLEACP will continue working in close collaboration with ZimTrade :
    • During the first half of 2020, under the leadership of Zimtrade, Zimbabwe was represented at “Fruit Logistica 2020”, a major fruit and vegetable trade show in Berlin.
      Supported was provided by the COLEACP Marketing and Technical Assistance teams, which included advice before, during and after the fair on the specific strategic actions that could be carried out. A Marketing approach plan along with a calendar of actions was designed and shared with Zimtrade team with remote meetings/ coaching before the Fair. The COLEACP practical guide on “How to make the most of Fruit Logistica 2020” was shared with Zimtrade and participating companies and promotional videos/ interviews were recorded during the event. Similar collaboration is expected for the 2021 edition of “Fruit Logistica”.
    • In collaboration with ZimTrade, COLEACP provided support following a request for intervention in the context of the floods brought by Cyclone Idai in south-east Zimbabwe. Technical assistance and training was provided to the Rusitu Valley Fruit Growers and Marketing Trust (RVGMT) in the region of Ndiadzo (Chipinge).
    • In collaboration with ZimTrade and other partners, notably including GreenStone Foods (the international offtake market earmarked by the Trust), two years of intensive work, negotiation and cooperation have now resulted in successful certification by Ecocert (August 2021).


COLEACP’s work in Zimbabwe focuses on value chains with a high marketing potential for the European export market, which include both established crops (sugar snaps, peas, avocado) and newer crops with export potential (passion fruit, sweet potatoes, berries). For regional and local markets, the focus will be on the main crops such as tomatoes, potatoes and chilies.

Support is being provided to the following beneficiaries:

  • Companies that are active in production and starting up gradually in processing, and that supply local, regional and export markets.
  • Communal farmers who grow mainly for local markets but also participate in the export industry by supplying to larger companies on an outgrower basis.
  • Professional organisations (associations, support structures, sector representatives); for example, COLEACP is in close contact with ZimTrade and the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union.
  • Consultancy firms and experts active in Zimbabwe and at regional level. There are a number of experts working on good agricultural practices and quality certifications who are active in the country and in the subregion (Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi).

Public sector representatives. Since the launch of Fit For Market, COLEACP has been liaising with the Zimbabwean Competent Authorities, with a focus on inspection services and compliance of export produce.

A formal request for intervention was received by the Zimbabwe’s Plant Quarantine and Plant Protection Services Institute (PQPPSI). The request led to the organization of a National Workshop in Harare in March 2020 for key public and private actors in horticulture to identify priorities and build a 3-year action plan for compliance with the EU SPS regulations. The Action Plan was afterwards designed, and an MoU is due to be signed in 2021-22.

Support has been provided through collective / regional interventions such as the “internal audit systems”. COLEACP expert will guide the internal audit team so that a functional internal audit system is in place, to monitor and evaluate implementation of the systems approach validated by the EU competent authorities.

Zimbabwe is also one of the pilot countries, implementing the R-SAT tool. The Rapid SPS Assessment Tool (R-SAT) has been developed by COLEACP to support competent authorities, in consultation with key public and private sector stakeholder, to assess the current status and functioning of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) systems. The aim is to develop a pathway for the strengthening of national SPS systems and ensure their alignment with international standards and regulations. It is expected that the R-SAT tool process will be finalized until the end of 2021.

PQPPSI team is actively engaged in the collective trainings organized by COLEACP aiming at strengthening skills and competencies of the ACP National Competent Authorities.


From the launch of Fit for Market in June 2017 until July 2021, COLEACP received 38 requests for intervention from Zimbabwe, which led to 33 memoranda of understanding.

The agreements include technical assistance and training protocols in areas such as certification (GLOBALG.A.P., British Retail Consortium, BRC); business development support for domestic and export markets; assessment for export markets; and implementation of COLEACP’s Sustainability Self-Assessment System.


Since March 2020, and following the evolution of the Covid-19 situation, COLEACP has adapted its modus operandi and taken a series of measures to continue working while integrating domestic and international guidelines related to the evolution of the pandemic. The safety of human resources, including partners’ staff, service providers, and members, is COLEACP’s priority.

Adjustments have therefore been implemented regarding field activities to comply with the precautionary measures related to COVID-19.
This does not have a direct impact on the main focus areas of the country strategy, but justifies an adaptation of the technical support, an increased use of remote communication and meeting tools, and as much as possible, an accelerated digitisation of advisory and training activities.


From regular communication with key stakeholders, COLEACP is aware that international development actors are still reluctant to actively intervene in Zimbabwe due to currency / hyperinflation challenges.

COLEACP/Fit For Market will continue to liaise and, if required, partner with the EU Delegation in Zimbabwe to provide information regarding its beneficiaries and activities carried out in the country.

COLEACP is also in close contact with the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels, keeping the Ambassador and the team informed about activities in the country and trends that are likely to have an impact on the horticultural sector.

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