Covid-19 Triggers Boom In Zim’s Export Of Fresh Produce

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ZIMBABWE is likely to see a huge demand for some of its horticultural crops in Europe after production there was badly affected by disruptions caused by lockdowns as the world battled to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

There was a decline in the production of peas and sugar snaps in Europe and this is likely to trigger huge demand for local produce, according to some industry players.

Green peas and sugar snaps are among Zimbabwe’s major horticultural export crops, which also include citrus, macadamia, avocado, peas, stone fruits, berries, and flowers.

Edwin Moyo, director of Nhimbe Fresh Produce said that demand for mangetout was showing signs of growth in Europe where production was disrupted by the pandemic: “The demand for our products is showing signs of growth especially in Europe because their production was affected by a coronavirus. For mangetout and sugar snaps, we are likely to double the volumes.”

Zimbabwe’s peak period for mangetout  and sugar snaps production is usually during winter season, defined as the period from May to August. What was important for now is to tighten safety measures to limit the spread of coronavirus at the farms, said Mr. Moyo.

An executive with another horticultural firm with an annual export volume capacity of 400 tonnes, said Zimbabwean firms should take advantage of Covid-19 to further penetrate global markets.

“The coronavirus is upon us but we also have to turn the pandemic into opportunities. It is the time we can prove to the whole world that we were once a giant (in terms of horticulture production) and we can reclaim that status.”

Horticulture industry-promising to be one of the country’s major foreign currency earners — has been showing positive signs of recovery and exports have been on an upward trend.

Exports in 2018 rose 116 percent last year to US$112 million from US$52 million recorded in the previous year, lifted by new products which were previously not exported.

The European Union is the largest market for Zimbabwe’s horticultural products. The main EU market includes the Netherlands, which accounts for 43%  of total horticulture exports, according to Trade Map.

For instance, citrus exports peaked in 2001 at 45 000 tonnes, being 60 percent of fresh produce output. Zimbabwe also became a valuable exporter of cut flowers, and by 2001, it was ranked as the second largest in Africa, behind Kenya, second among African, Caribbean, and Pacific exporters, and was the fifth biggest exporter to the EU.