Harare — THE Government is currently developing a new National Agriculture Policy Framework designed to boost productivity and enhance exports, the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made has said.
Implemented with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the policy would promote the broadening of the supply base of horticultural produce and increase the number of players in the industry.
"The Government also wants to see the diversification of markets even though we enjoy some preferences in the European Union market due to the Cotonou Agreement, which makes our produce competitive but those preferences may fall away one day, hence the need to be prepared for that eventuality," he said.
The horticulture industry is currently at a critical point where there are new entrants aspiring to join the established players, which makes it vital to co-ordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to consolidate the fortunes of the sector, Dr Made explained.
"Besides the formulation of the National Agricultural Policy Framework I mentioned earlier, the Sadc region is in the process of harmonising agricultural policies across member states.
"This regional agricultural policy initiative should see the adoption and harmonisation of policies such as climate change, HIV and Aids, sanitary and phytosanitary issues," said Dr Made.
Dr Made also challenged the visiting managing director of the Common Funds for Commodities Ambassador Ali Mchumo to capitalise on the country's excellent climate and prevailing stable macro-economic environment to deploy more resources into the country, especially for the participation of smallholder farmers.
Ambassador Mchumo was among the participants at a one-day workshop running under the theme "Renaissance of the horticulture sector in Zimbabwe".
The workshop was jointly organised by CFC, the Horticulture Promotion Council and the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe to appraise stakeholders on the current state of the industry.
Dr Made also challenged the IDBZ to keep credit lines open and promote the participation of more farmers in the export markets.
Success in the horticulture sector was also possible through strengthening public and private partnerships, promoting joint ventures between local farmers and external investors, promoting producer groups and establishing co-operative pack houses among other things.