Zimbabwe: Pea Hectarage to Decline in 2023 - HDC

20 January 2023

Pea production is expected to decline this winter season due to high production costs, the Horticulture Development Council (HDC) has revealed.

There has been a concern over high production costs while the producer price has remained unchanged.

In a Twitter post yesterday HDC said there will be a reduction in the area under pea this season.

The market scan from the same Twitter post attributed the pending decline to a small increase in pea producer price against a huge increase in production costs.

"There was a slight increase in the price of peas of approximately 5, 6 percent, which fell far short of the increases which growers had seen in the cost of inputs," said the Twitter post.

In yesterday's HDC breakfast meeting, the Export Fresh Produce Growers Association of Zimbabwe (EFGAZ) disclosed the results of a survey done on 13 pea farmers. The combined hectarage of the farmers fell from 436, 6 hectares, to 328, 6ha and is projected to go further down to 169ha in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Meanwhile, the same Twitter post also revealed that blueberry expansion plans were doubtful as producers' focus would be on tending attention to current plantations.

"Blueberry prices largely remained the same although some dropped due to competition from Peru," said the twitter post.

The post also encouraged the industry to take heed of the market requirements that are environmentally friendly, for instance transporting through the shipping rather than air freight.

"There is pressure from the market to move to sea instead of air freight for the coming season to reduce carbon footprint," continued the twitter post.

Efforts to get a comment from HDC chief executive officer Ms Linda Nielsen were in vain as she was not available to comment at the time of going to press.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Berry Growers Association vice chairman Mr Stuart Torr said everything in the blueberry cost chain had gone up against opposing factors of high-interest rates and foreign currency liquidation.

"Fuel, labour, electricity, inputs and freight costs have all gone up while the price has remained stagnant thereby threatening farmer viability.

"The compulsory liquidation of 25 percent of exporters' foreign currency receipts is acting as a tax," said Mr Torr.

To discourage speculative borrowing on the local market the Government hiked interest rates to 200 percent per annum. This has resulted in borrowers shifting from local to foreign currency with the rates considered to be higher locally compared to those prevailing on the international market.

"The 12 to 14 percent per annum interest rate that lenders are charging locally is high as compared to the five to seven that is prevailing on the international market.

"This coupled with limited offshore finance coming to Zimbabwe militates against blueberry expansion," added Mr Torr.

To counter the viability challenge Mr Torr believes that there was a need for Government to offer incentives to exporters such as 100 percent foreign currency retention and availing of patient capital.

He also bemoaned the billing of exporters' electricity in foreign currency as well as the challenge of exporters getting funds from the foreign currency auction floors.

Zimbabwe's unique selling proposition in the blueberry industry is quality, taste and production time when the country's blueberry hits the market in winter before its arch-rival Peru floods the market with about 300 000 tonnes of its product.

Peru has the added advantage of the closeness to the market. The dictates of a market for exporters to go green via sea freight will extend time the country's produce get to Europe.

This has the negative effect of the country missing on high prices as a result of low supply against high demand.

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