Zimbabwe’s horticulture exports surged as the country’s trade deficit shrank by 90 percent in February 2019 compared to the same period last year.
According to statistics from ZimStat, the country’s trade deficit decreased significantly from US$228 million in February 2018 to just US$22 million in February 2019 and prospects for an equilibrium appear on the horizon.
Horticulture exports which took a knock at the turn of the millennium largely due to deteriorating relations between Zimbabwe and its export markets, mainly Europe, rose from a 0,3 percent contribution in 2018 to 0,5 percent in 2019.
In a statement, ZimTrade CEO Mr Allan Majuru noted the rising contribution of horticulture products and also said this contribution can increase even further if import substitution measures are instituted.
“Exports of consumptive goods such as fruits and vegetables have increased and if complemented by import substitution programmes can lead to a decrease in the trade deficit,” said Mr Majuru.
“As ZimTrade we encourage small-scale farmers to develop linkages that will enable them to take advantage of export markets,” he said.
In a report, ZimTrade attributed the increase to new products entering the export basket such as bambara beans, shelled macadamia nuts, seed potatoes, kale, blueberries and seeds of cowpeas, among others.
There has also been an increase in other products already on the export basket such as mushrooms, mange tout peas, green tea, carrots, beetroot, dried mixed vegetables, chillies and peaches, among others.
To further boost the sector’s contribution, ZimTrade has lined up various projects to promote the horticultural sector and has been actively participating in export promotion activities to market products that are being produced locally.
It is also pushing the “Best Model Farm” project which targets small scale farmers and seek to capacitate and equip them to develop production, improve quality and diversify export products.
Farmers are also benefiting from a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with PUM, a Netherlands based organisation of senior expert consultants, which has been sending expert missions to assist local horticultural farmers.