The Harare Agricultural Show is Zimbabwe's biggest agricultural business exhibition which runs every year. The Show is run and administered by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS). The show takes place at the every year at the Exhibition Park Grounds in the capital city Harare and local and international exhibitions take place annually. The exhibitions mainly by farmers and corporates take place for about a week amidst entertainment from artists,corporate exhibitions and government departments.
The Agricultural Show came into being during the Rhodesian era when the country was still under colonial rule. The annual show started as a small venture 1910 in the then colonial capital Salisbury (now Harare). It was started by a group of medium scale white setter farmers especially from the Mashonaland region. The main idea behind the launch of the show was to share and exchange ideas. During this period in Rhodesia, the British South Africa Company government which was in charge had begun the land invasion crusade in which indigenous Shona and Ndebele communities were displaced from their traditional homelands to newly established reserves and communal areas.
Hence the British South Africa government promoted the land alienation as part of the grand agenda to promote commercial agriculture in Southern Rhodesia. The Agricultural Show during its infancy was funded by a conglomeration of commercial farmers and the government. Exhibitions were by and large in agricultural products such as maize, sorghum, wheat and livestock.
The Harare Agricultural Show has largely been biased towards promoting agro-business in Zimbabwe. Bearing in mind that Zimbabwe is an agro-based country, the show is of cardinal importance to the economic and political organisation of the country for it has always been a reflection of the country's productive capabilities.
Agricultural exhibitions are mainly done by individuals and commercial farming corporates. Since independence in 1980, a number of small scale black commercial farmers began to take part in the exhibitions. Before then, commercial farming was dominated by the minority white farmers who had large tracts of arable and fertile land. Before independence, white commercial farmers mainly concentrated in the exhibition and production of exotic agricultural products such as wheat and tobacco. On the other hand, indigenous farmers who were restricted to subsistence and communal scale specialised in the exhibition of local traditional products such as sorghum, finger millet, groundnuts, roundnuts and livestock.
Government Departments and Ministries
Government departments and ministries have also been important players in the Agricultural exhibitions. Despite the fact that they do not necessarily specialise in agricultural products, they have taken the opportunity to meet and interact with the public. The most notable departments include the Zimbabwe Republic Police who are known for their displays especially during the official opening ceremonies each year. The Zimbabwe National Army has also been another major player especially in the post-colonial period from 1980. It has played significant role in the entertainment facade through offering eye catching presentations. Both the ZRP and the ZNA have also taken the platform to enlighten the civil public on how they operate and how they serve the public through their various initiatives.
Corporates and NGO Exhibitions
Corporate organisations as well as Non-Governmental Organisations have in the recent past become the main attractions of the Harare Agricultural Show. Most of these corporates have taken the platform to market their products taking advantage of a considerably bigger audience which tours attends the exhibitions every year. Players in the telecoms industry, media and information, retail business, mining, broadcasting, tourism and hospitality, Information and Technology, Hospitality and tourism, transport and education have all used the Harare Agricultural Show to market their various products. Some major corporates to exhibit since 2010 include Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Telecel Zimbabwe among others. Year 2012 marked a considerable boom in technology companies exhibitions; tech companies; mobile operators, internet providers, tech hardware companies and one or two software development firms.
The 2014 Edition
The 2014 event of the Harare Agricultural Show was infact the 104th edition of the annual show. It was held under the theme "Sustaining and Transforming Agricultural Growth". It was officially opened by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe on the 22nd of August in the main arena at the Exhibition Park in Harare. The show took place soon after the hosting of the Southern Africa Development Community Troika meeting in Victoria Falls and this resulted in some regional delegates attending the event. These include the first lady of Congo Brazzaville Mrs Nguesso. Senior government officials such as the then Vice President Joice Mujuru, Grace Mugabe, Simon Khaya Moyo, Walter Mzembi and Joseph Made also attended the official opening ceremony.
Prizes and Awards
The President presented awards to outstanding farmers who held excelled in their various agricultural projects. The winners were selected by a panel of adjudicators from the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Society. The winners included individual small scale communal farmers, small scale commercial farmers and large scale commercial farmers. Livestock and Dairy producers were also awarded trophies for their outstanding work in the agricultural organs of the country. Some notable winners include Gushungo Dairy Farm owned by the the first family which won a prize in the Daily and Livestock category.
One can safely say that the official opening ceremony of the 104th edition of the Harare Agricultural Show was undoubtedly the main attraction. It involved an inspection of the Guard of Honour by the president, the singing of the national anthem as well as the presidential key note address. The shutdown event was also very colourful with fireworks adding life to an already jovial atmosphere. Musicians such as Winky D and other Zimbabwe Dancehall artists also thrilled the fans most of whom were the youth.
It goes without saying that the Harare Agricultural Show is one of Zimbabwe's most revered annual events. Corporates, entrepreneurs, youngsters and adults have for long been using this platform as an opportunity to interact with each other, to meet clients, to market their products as well as to refresh their minds in an environment where both business and recreation exist side by side in a colourful and activity packed week long procession.
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