• Many farmers can no longer sell their produce due to the lockdown, but some are managing through online marketing and home deliveries.

Since Zimbabwe started lockdown measures on 30 March, farmers have been struggling to sell their produce. With restaurants closed and people staying away from markets, tonnes of tomatoes, avocados and other fruit and veg have been rotting in piles across the country. Since COVID-19, many farmers have recorded losses of thousands of dollars.

Some, however, have adopted new strategies to sell their produce. In the past few weeks, marketing posters have increasingly been popping up across social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp advertising direct home deliveries. From about $5 to $20, depending on the combination and number of vegetables, Zimbabweans trying to avoid infection from coronavirus can get farmers to bring food straight to their door.

Desire Jongwe, a farmer in eastern Zimbabwe, adopted this strategy after his usual ways of selling his produce became untenable. He had been preparing a batch of chickens for sale when the lockdown was announced.

“I asked myself ‘where can I get the market?’”, he says. “I had already discussed with restaurant owners and they had said they would take my chickens…I devised a plan on how I can sell my chicken online using social media.”

He created an ad and started sharing it. He followed this up with more posts, advertising basic vegetable packages for $5, $7 or $10 and allowing customers to choose a combination of leaf vegetables, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, squashes and peppers.

Soon, people began responding. Many were in the diaspora and wanted to buy food for their family members in Zimbabwe. They transferred money to Jongwe who delivered packages to their relatives. He says he is now making 10 to 15 deliveries three days a week. In the long run, Jongwe believes his income from this way of doing things will compare to his earnings before the lockdown.

“For me, the cost of production is lower than the prices of vegetables…The market value of vegetables is high and it’s lucrative,” he says.