14 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Investors Scramble for Horticulture Exports

Some foreign firms are scrambling to invest in the country's horticultural sector following improvement of the investment climate over the past few months.

This comes at a time when the Government is moving towards horticulture exports resuscitation in various European markets.

The new administration has wowed a lot of investors around the world including some in European Union and the United Kingdom markets.

England-based horticulture investor Archibald Tapuwa James Gumiro, who be one of the key presenters at "Resuscitation of Horticulture Exports in Zimbabwe Conference" tomorrow, said there is an increased appetite to invest into the country's horticulture sector due to the open door policy by the new administration.

He said the resumption of horticulture European Union quota system is expected to boost horticulture exports.

"The international markets want to resume trade with Zimbabwe and buyers are keen to give Zimbabwe a quota of the exports for 2018.

"The major horticulture products of interest to the international market are mange tout, sugar snaps, peas, chillies, fine beans, parsnips, baby marrows, sweet potatoes; fruits (bananas, avocado pears, papaya, oranges, and lemons); and flowers.

"Buyers from Tesco, the leading supermarket chain in the UK want to visit the country and assess its readiness to supply European markets with fresh produce," said Mr Gumiro.

Zimbabwe is ready to engage international markets in line with the mantra "Zimbabwe is open for business".

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri has repeatedly challenged farmers to improve both production and productivity in the resettled farms.

Government will provide an enabling environment.

He went on: "The opportunity to export fresh produce to international markets could not have come at a better time for the country as Zimbabwe desperately needs to increase foreign currency inflows; create employment; improve food security and reduce poverty.

"Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy and the revival of agriculture will restore her status as the bread basket of Africa."

Following the land reform programme, Zimbabwe experienced a serious decline in the export of horticulture exports to European Union and other parts of the world.

These markets stopped importing produce from the resettled farmers and this resulted in reduced foreign currency inflows into the country.

Prior to the land reform horticulture exports were a preserve for white farmers but with the new dispensation, Government is keen to harness all available opportunities for trade.

While all countries except Zimbabwe show a gradual increase in exports during the period 1998 to 2009, the experienced a gradual decrease.

Horticulture exports grew to $32 million in 1991 from $3,5 million in 1986, contributing between 3,5 percent to 4,5 percent of the GDP, and was second to tobacco in foreign currency earnings.

The exports nosedived between 2000 and 2008, before bouncing back to $71 million in 2012 and $96 million in 2015.

The main objectives of this conference are to increase agricultural production capacity of resettled farmers using environmentally friendly methods and resuscitate horticulture exports and facilitate Global Gap certification for farmers interested in exporting fresh produce.

It is also expected to harness export opportunities available and contribute to economic growth and improved livelihoods and to build capacity of small scale farmers to enable them produce for exports.

Meanwhile, Government is targeting to surpass the $143 million mark from horticultural export proceeds next year after extending the sector to Command Agriculture Scheme.

The country earned $143 million in 1999 at the peak of the sector and authorities feel the figure can be exceeded on the back of Command Agriculture support.

Putting horticulture under Command Agriculture Scheme is expected to bring back the sector to its former glory as well as penetrate new markets.

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