Garlic production in the country increased by more than 600 percent this year as demand for the crop soars, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, experts said.
Speaking during a workshop organised by Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric Growers Association of Zimbabwe (GGTAZ) in Gweru recently, GGTAZ representative, Mr Douglas Msipa said the country had realised 200 tonnes of garlic the previous year.
Mr Msipa, said more farmers were embracing garlic farming, with the country expecting around 1 200 tonnes of the cash crop.
"It's been a long journey. We have been moving around the country mobilising farmers with ZIMTRADE. Initially, it was just a few of us who were interested in growing the crop. However, many farmers are now appreciating the crop as its demand is also increasing," he said.
Mr Msipa said the demand for garlic shot up as people began to appreciate its medicinal value under the Covid-19 pandemic
He said there was, however, shortage of the garlic seed in the county and the association has banned exports so as to improve the availability of the seed locally.
"There is still a challenge in that there is shortage of seeds so what we have done as an association is to ban the export of garlic. This will help improve the production of seeds so that we reach our target of around 25 000," he said.
An expert in the field, Professor Mandivamba Rukuni, said the focus for garlic farmers should now be on thinking beyond exporting the crop in its raw form.
"We are creating an industry for every Zimbabwean. And more farmers should be part of this industry. What we lack is industry literacy.
"We are on an industrialisation drive to have people come on board and become industrialists.
"For us to achieve vision 2030 we need to stop exporting the produce in its raw form," he said.