By Precious Manomano
Zimbabwe is targeting increase in high value horticultural products for export markets to create more jobs and continuing to diversify its agricultural production base and increased production for local markets to give consumers a wider range of produce.
Horticulture exports last season grew by 6,8 percent to US$64,6 million from US$59,5 million recorded in the 2020-2021 season, according to the trade promotion body, ZimTrade.
This growth was driven by macadamia nuts exports which contributed US$13,8 million, citrus at US$10,9 million, vegetables at US$4,2 million and flowers at US$3,2 million.
Newer crops of blueberries increased sharply to 5 000 tonnes in the last season and pecan nuts production increased significantly by 348percent from 85,3 tonnes in 2020-2021 to 374 tonnes in the 2021-2022.
Increasing volumes boosts income and increasing the range of produce exported gives the sector resilience to shocks on the commodities markets, climate change and other economic factors.
Speaking during the Strategic Planning Workshop held in Gweru, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera highlighted the statistics. These showed that horticulture was on a rebound targeting export crops.
“Sugarcane production is estimated at 6 049 404 tonnes which represents a three percent increase from 5 886 527 tonnes obtained in 2020-2021 season,” he said. “Coffee production increased by 12 percent from 608 tonnes in the 2020-2021 season to 681 tonnes in the 2021-2022 season.
“Apple production has increased by 17 percent from 4 032 tonnes in the 2020-2021 season to 4 708 tonnes obtained in the 2021-22 season. Irish Potato production increased by 19 percent from 447 867 tonnes in the 2020-2021 season to 592 779 tonnes this season and the positive growth trajectory will be our new reality now as the potato value chain financing initiative is yielding positive results.”
Horticulture can grow fast since Zimbabwe is well placed geographically and climatically to produce fresh and pure produce on good soils, pristine water and a variety of climatic conditions. Under the Presidential Rural Horticulture Transformation Plan, 2,3 million households will benefit from fruit production and village nutrition gardens this year.
The extra produce can improve the diets of the growers and their families, be sold in local markets and be amalgamated into export orders for new export markets.
Recently, Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said there was need for empowerment of smallholder farmers on infrastructural development and also on market requirements.
“Smallholder farmers, especially women require irrigation infrastructure so they can produce high value crops throughout the year,” she said.
“Some of the women have the zeal to produce, but lack technical expertise and do not have adequate information on the market.”