HORTICULTURE has the potential to earn the country much needed foreign currency provided government and players in the sector work together to create conducive operating environment.
Zimbabwe was also the biggest exporter of horticulture produce in Africa with niche markets in Europe and the Americas.
Zimtrade chief executive Allan Majuru believes Zimbabwe’s climatic conditions are conducive for horticulture produce and the country can easily meet the growing demand for super foods in the region and Europe.
“There is growing demand for fresh produce in the region, imagine South Africa is sending fresh produce to Tete in Mozambique through Harare and we are not. Tete is a vibrant market with over 54 mines that require fresh produce. In Europe the demand for super foods is also big and this is a US$80b market. We could also export organic foods and snack veggies”.
However, Majuru said most Horticulture producers rush into farming without finding markets for their produce.
“First a farmer must find a market for his produce before going into the field. Getting a buyer will ensure the farmer does not make a loss or be forced to sell their produce for a song. Equally the farmers need to know the requirements of the market particularly if it was a foreign market”.
He said his organization was currently working with a number of small holder farmers to ensure they receive certification to export to Europe.
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.
“We have a US$10m facility for horticulture players with an export market as the facility needs to be repaid in foreign currency. The tenure for those who are successful is one year with an option for extension and to date the uptake is good.
We understand the sector requires long term capital for retooling and we are working on that,” said ZB chief executive Roy Mutandagayi.