The second wave of Covid-19 that has hit Europe has forced many countries to re-impose lockdowns and that in turn has hit Zimbabwean farmers exporting flowers to Europe, Minister of State in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga's Office Evelyn Ndlovu said yesterday.
Speaking during a tour of Lingfield horticulture farm on the outskirts of Gweru, Minister Ndlovu said the horticulture export business was shrinking as some European markets closed.
"We have toured this horticulture farm and what we have seen here is a clear indication that our people can do well on the land," she said.
"This is a sign that as a country we can be our own liberators in turning around the fortunes of our economy through horticulture farming.
"We have, however, learnt with concern the effects of this coronavirus on our horticulture farmers due to the shrinking of the market. This is a setback, but the great work which is being done at this farm is clear testimony that as Zimbabweans, we can use our land."
Minister Ndlovu urged farmers in horticulture to impart knowledge and expertise to other farmers, as well as agriculture students so that the country can increase its horticultural produce.
"The coronavirus is a setback, but we want more farmers to venture into horticulture," she said.
"We should work hand-in-hand and pass on knowledge to others so that we achieve greater results as a nation."
Lingfield Farm operations director Mr Tatenda Karimazondo said he was now looking for alternative markets in Europe and the Middle East.
When most of Lingfield's European markets closed due to Covid-19 early this year, the farm lost thousands of dollars as they were forced to throw away flowers ready for harvest.
"We had orders from countries like England and Germany," said Mr Karimazondo.
"However, the second wave of the pandemic might mean shops will be closed in these countries, with business people only delivering essentials to people's homes.
"This might affect us. We are now looking at other markets like Russia and the United Arab Emirates where the products are said to be in high demand."
Government recently launched the agriculture revival strategy which has heightened expectation of a turnaround in horticulture production in the country.