Manicaland — Sweet potato farmers in Manicaland have something to smile about following an expression of interest by Asian companies to buy their produce.
Manicaland Agritex crops and livestock officer Mr Cephas Mlambo revealed that markets were fast opening up in Japan and China after some organisations expressed interest in buying sweet potatoes from the province.
Mr Mlambo encouraged farmers to increase sweet potato production, saying they would earn more once the Asian markets opened.
"A Japanese company has also shown interest in buying sweet potatoes from Zimbabwe although the plans are still in the pipeline," he said.
"Over 10 000 hectares of sweet potatoes have been planted in Chipinge, Mutasa and Makoni districts. We want farmers to expand their production as the demand for sweet potatoes has increased following the bread price increase.
"Government was still working on finding foreign buyers of sweet potatoes with a Japanese company and other buyers in China having shown interest in buying the product."
Mr Mlambo said there was need to improve the quality of the product to meet international standards.
He said that can be achieved considering that sweet potatoes were easy to produce.
"We want to expand and improve the quality of sweet potatoes to meet international level so that we also increase exportation revenue," said Mr Mlambo.
"Sweet potatoes are a drought-resistant crop and easy to manage since they do not need a lot of inputs. They are not highly perishable and require less intensive levels of knowledge and labour.
"Sweet potatoes are considered as major contributors towards the breadbasket, but demand is being triggered by rising bread prices. The crop has the potential to boost food and nutrition security while after processing the crop, we can have products like chips, flour or drinks."
Mr Mlambo advised farmers to add value to sweet potatoes by making some end products.