ZimTrade, Zimbabwe’s national export promotion body, says it is developing export hubs to integrate smallholder farmers into export business.
In an interview, ZimTrade Managing Director Allan Majuru said the country was increasing engagement between local farmers and buyers in Europe and the UK, where the focus was on market demands.
“Zimbabwe’s horticultural exporters face capacity challenges in accessing the European Union market, which limits their ability to fully realize export growth opportunities,” Majuru said.
“To address this challenge, ZimTrade is developing export hubs across the country where the aim is also to integrate smallholder farmers into export business.
“By doing so, the country will increase the number of producers, which in turn will boost production.
“In previous years, other horticultural farmers have also been unable to participate fully in exports due to market access requirements imposed by the EU.
This led some farmers to abandon exports, close and downsize. »
Zimbabwe’s horticulture sector is among the top five contributors to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), behind tobacco, maize and cotton, with huge potential to contribute to Zimbabwe’s export growth.
Zimbabwe has a diverse horticultural sub-sector and most producers are smallholders.
The growing global market for horticulture, in the form of fruits, nuts and vegetables, presents opportunities for players in the Zimbabwean sector to increase their exports.
Mr. Majuru said that as Zimbabwe steps up its efforts to revive the economy, the agricultural sector is a low-hanging fruit with the potential to earn much-needed foreign exchange through the export of quality horticultural produce.
In terms of market penetration, Zimbabwe has a reputation as a source of quality horticultural products.
“In fact, there is a general appreciation in countries like the Netherlands where buyers say that Zimbabwean products such as blueberries taste better than those from other countries,” Majuru said.
Currently, typical cash crops produced for the export market include temperate fruits (oranges, apples, pears, peaches and nectarines), tropical fruits and vegetables (bush corn, butternut, citrus fruits, chili, gem squash, kiwi, lychee , mango, passion fruit and pineapple), baby carrots, fine beans, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, melon, strawberries and sweet corn, as well as flowers.
The main markets for Zimbabwe’s horticultural exports are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Germany, Hong Kong, Portugal, France, China, Norway, Poland and Spain.
The UK is the second largest importer of Zimbabwean horticultural products and with the entry into force of the UK’s East and Southern Africa Economic Partnership Agreement, Britain has signaled its intention to strengthen bilateral trade relations.
The government’s horticulture recovery and growth plan is expected to boost export growth and boost production to meet the growing demand for horticulture products.
Currently, there is a growing demand for organic foods among consumers as more and more people are health conscious and looking for nutrient-dense and low-calorie products.
“Consumers are increasingly aware of foods containing pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and are turning to organic foods, which is driving the growth of the market for organic agriculture devoid of the chemicals used in crops,” said Mr Majuru.