THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) under its AgriInvest initiative has donated a vehicle and office equipment to the Horticulture Development Council (HDC) in a bid to promote horticulture and key value chains.
Speaking at the handover ceremony FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Country Representative to Zimbabwe Alain Onibon, said the donation was a step towards rebuilding the horticulture sector in the country.
“This is small donation of office desks, chairs and a vehicle is part of our efforts to help in rebuilding the horticulture sector. We are also discussing with partners for more support towards HDC. Horticulture will attract a lot of investment for the country so supporting HDC will bring in a lot of jobs, foreign exchange and investment”.
Onibon said for the horticulture sector to grow government must create an enabling environment.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture Vangelis Haritatos welcomed the donation and said it will go a long way in developing robust institutions to attract private development.
“We are aware that the Agrinvest initiative is a regional programme, meant to support the host governments to develop enabling business environment for private sector investments in the agriculture sector. We hope through this technical cooperation we will be able to achieve much in terms of developing robust institutions and systems to leverage on private sector investments”.
HDC chair Gorden Makoni welcomed the donation which will go a long way in up scaling activities of his organisation.
Horticulture was once a significant earner of foreign currency with the sector contributing 15% of total exports in 2009 however, last year the figure stood at less than one percent of total exports.
Among the prime destinations for Zimbabwe horticulture produce during its heyday were the European and American markets.
According to Zimtrade the horticulture sector faces a lot of challenges that include lack of capital, logistical challenges, and technical expertise.
Government has also committed to help in resuscitating horticulture by incorporating it into the command programme and announced that it will revamp the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) so it becomes more responsive to the needs of the sector.
Financial institutions have also recognized the importance of the sector and foreign generation capacity and are beginning to extend loans.
Recently ZB bank availed a US$10m facility to players in the horticulture sector with export markets.