The implementation of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) which commenced in June 2000 ushered in a new era in terms of markets and marketing channels for agricultural services, inputs and outputs. Agricultural commodity marketing and pricing policies implemented during the FTLRP era induced the emergence and proliferation of a new regime of markets and market relationships. The harsh economic environment that prevailed during the same era induced some form of mutation that gave birth to an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit within the farmers and rural residents. Agricultural marketing during the FTLRP era was one characterized by strong government intervention with partial and sometimes complete regulation along the value chain. The study uses survey data collected by the AIAS during the 2005/2006 season from six districts in different provinces across all the five agro-ecological regions (Natural Regions I to V) of the country.
The study finds that major changes have occurred in Zimbabwe's agrarian economy resulting in significant shifts in agricultural production and the functioning of commodity markets. A severe economic meltdown that coincided with this period created an unfavourable environment for the functioning of formal markets and production systems. The majority of the newly resettled households accessed agricultural inputs through own purchase from various sources in the open market, including mainly cross-border imports from surrounding countries. A limited number of households sourced their inputs through support schemes run by the government, private sector and non-governmental organizations. Agricultural outputs on the other hand were marketed through various informal channels apart from the state marketing authorities. A necessary growth in local economic activity has occurred as a result of both push (failure of formal markets) and pull (increasing local demand) factors resulting in new circuits of economic interaction that are not mediated through the state or parastatal authorities.