Horticulture Sector Embarks On Unique Export Plan

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By Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwean Horticultural Development Council (HDC) last Thursday and Friday hosted an investment forum.

It is the first of its kind to track development trends and opportunities in Zimbabwe and to provide insights and analysis with the aim of attracting foreign direct investment into Zimbabwean horticulture.

The government aims to increase agriculture’s contribution to US$8.2 billion by 2025 to reverse the decline in food production, said Vangelis Haritatos Deputy Agriculture Minister through a horticultural recovery and growth plan to revive the domestic and export horticultural sectors.

“The Horticultural Development Council plays a vital role in improving horticultural business efficiency and competitiveness in Zimbabwe. It represents 77% of the current horticultural export turnover of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Our country is on a path to win back its regional status of food security and surplus.”

Haritatos noted a successful past season during which the agricultural sector grew by 34% and the country is food secure.

Horticulture contributes 6.5% to total agricultural output and 0.7% of Zimbabwe’s total gross domestic product; Zimbabwean agriculture earns US$77 million in export revenues at the moment.

“At its peak, the horticulture industry recorded exports above US$130 million. It fell to its lowest ebb in 2009 to around US$20 million,” said the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, John Mangudya.

Before 2017, the horticultural growth rate had been negative since the turn of the millennium.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to resolve land tenure matters and place agriculture at the epicentre of Zimbabwe’s economic policy, with a particular focus on exports, aided by the relaxation of exporting procedures.

The aim is a 30% annual growth rate in the horticultural sector by 2030, a “bullish” outlook (it is currently 5%), noted Stanley Heri, HDC chairperson, but one which could bring in US$1 billion in export earnings to the economy.

The development of a unique competitive brand for Zimbabwean horticulture would be key to its achievement.

“I am convinced Zimbabwe’s unique selling proposition to the international community is the production of quality products,” he maintained.

“In my view, Zimbabwe is a sleeping giant, taking into account what’s happening in Ethiopia and Kenya, where 70% of fresh produce is produced by the small-scale sector through the hub-and-spoke model.”

Heri, a product of the hub-and-spoke model, emphasised the need of the private sector to invest in medium to long-term projects.

Clemence Chiduwa, the deputy minister of finance and economic development, acknowledged that horticulture is key to the development of Zimbabwe’s economy. With the aid of the International Monetary Fund, a Horticulture Revolving Fund of US$20 million has been announced to provide exporters with foreign currency requirements; the modalities are still to be decided by the Cabinet.