MASVINGO - The number of exhibitors taking up stands at agricultural shows around the country has in some cases dropped to as low as 21% of the show capacities and this has raised serious concern among the country's 13 agricultural show societies.
The figures emerged at the inagural meeting of the recently launched National Association of Agricultural Show Societies (NAASS) held in Masvingo last Friday.
The representatives said that exhibitors' numbers have plummeted so badly that this raised serious concerns about the future of agricultural shows. The concerns arose when representatives of the 13 agricultural show societies reviewed the forthcoming annual agricultural shows which kick off in July.
Fidelis Harry who represented Lowveld Show Society for example said their show now heavily relied onTongaat Hulett Limited as the stands uptake has gone down from 51% to 21%
Victoria Chikukwa from the Midlands said the stands uptake so far for this year's show stands at 60% . The representatives also said some tenants at the show grounds were failing to pay rentals resulting in them being handed over to debt collectors.
Tonderai Choga of Mash East raised the issue of cheating that has emerged in his area where some farmers were buying good crops from other areas and exhibiting them at the shows as theirs.
The show societies representatives also discussed their intended guests of honour and the themes for this year. They also discussed the challenge of foot and mouth disease.
Mavingo's Gamuchirai Mlilo said the show society has immensely benefitted from the Zanu PF annual conference held at the venue last December which saw infrastucture being upgraded and rehabilitated.
Trust Chaputsira who is the chairman for Masvingo Show Society said the purpose of the national association is for societies to speak with one voice. The Minister of Agriculture Irrigation and Mechanisation Dr Joseph Made officially launched NAASS in May.
"The main purpose is to be able to speak with one voice when engaging Government and other stakeholders like councils and the communities that we serve," said Chaputsira.