Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Local farmers can benefit from the $90 billion global horticulture sector and make rich pickings if they grow to standard, most of the demanded crops such as tomatoes and onions, ZimTrade CEO Mr Allan Majuru has said.
Mr Majuru said this in Harare recently while addressing an agribusiness conference on the topic, “Creating agriculture competitiveness and harnessing export markets”.
His call comes at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing foreign currency shortages which have affected the smooth payment of foreign transactions principally for raw materials and spare parts for industry.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has implored producers in the manufacturing, mining and agricultural sector, to export more of their products to boost foreign currency receipts.
Mr Majuru believes that increasing horticultural production, and adding value to most of the products, is central to generating more foreign currency for the country.
“Agriculture contribution to exports was 50 percent but as at last year, the contribution was 15 percent and it is mainly dominated by commodities and raw materials. So we are exporting jobs,” said Mr Majuru.
“As ZimTrade we are looking at investment in those areas locally whereby we value add, especially in the agriculture sector so that at the end of the day we export value-added goods rather than commodities.
“In the 1990s, Zimbabwe was number one and Kenya was number two and now Zimbabwe is nowhere to be seen. Our horticulture sector is still in the ‘$90 millions’ when others are in billions.”
Recent statistics show that in 2016, the European Union (EU) imported horticulture products worth $85,9 billion while the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) took products worth $1,7 billion.
Sadc imported horticultural products worth $741,9 million in 2016, and Mr Majuru believes local farmers can seize the opportunity and boost output, and consequently generate more foreign currency for the country.
Mr Majuru said their trips across the continent show that there is scope for boosting export receipts if farmers supply several products demanded in Mozambique, Angola, Botswana and DRC.
Mozambique demands inputs such as seed, chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers. It also wants hand tools such as hoes, machetes; together with mechanised agricultural equipment; poultry and beef; and fresh fruits and vegetables.
In Angola, the market has a short supply of pork products (bacon, tinned meat).
Poultry, dairy products, eggs, fresh juice and concentrates; fresh produce (vegetables, fruits, dairy products, fresh meat), are also demanded in Angola.
It is understood that Angola offers high prices particularly in the capital, Luanda.
DRC also wants processed foods, agriculture supplies and fresh produce with Botswana also demanding processed foods, fresh produce and agricultural implements and inputs.
In the Middle East, Dubai wants fresh produce.
Zimbabwe can take advantage of its Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTA) with Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique, to broaden the market for horticultural products.
BTAs offer preferential treatment to products originating from a partner country.
Said Mr Majuru: “Most of the products required there are grown locally but what is important is meeting the requirements. Global certification is required.”
ZimTrade has now teamed with experts from Netherlands — PUM and Senior Experten Service (SES) — to improve the quality of products so that they get international acceptance and competitive prices.
At its peak in 1998 /99, the country exported 18 400 tonnes of flowers, 14 200 tonnes of vegetables and 45 000 tonnes of fruits, earning about $143 million.
GDP contribution in that season was 4,5 percent, placing it second after tobacco in the agricultural sector.