ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s horticultural sector recorded significant growth in 2018 exports generating US$112 million up from US$50.9 million in 2017 as production of commodities increase, reports The Herald.

According to Zimtrade’s acting export development manager, Tatenda Murume, an increase in consumption and conscience of healthy food consumption in the global market was also a major contributor to the increase in exports.

“These horticultural products present an opportunity for exporters since each has one or a combination of factors making it desirable.

Factors include strong nutritional profile, scope for value addition (eg passion fruit, chillies), favourable supply windows, and a reputation in Zimbabwe for that product on the international market (eg peas),” he said.

Mr Murume advised local farmers to capitalise on the increasing demand for organic produce, which fetches a premium of up to 30%, and the entire ever growing agricultural sector.

“Although there are technicalities and costs associated with meeting the stringent requirements for organic certification, this can be offset by the removal of some costs, for example, chemical fertilisers and pesticides and the higher prices,” he explained.

Mr Murume revealed that Zimbabwe has been experiencing significant expansion of its horticultural produce into new markets including the European Union countries, Asia and Middle East due to increased consumer demand.

 “We are also currently exploring potentially viable opportunities in the Middle East.

Dubai is of interest to us as we try to diversify our export markets as it is one of the biggest re-exporters of food in the world, and a gateway to the Middle-East region where fresh produce fetches premium prices.”

However, exporters in the country have been lamenting over the inflated costs of the export permits and other regulatory instruments that have hampered growth in the industry.

Mr Marume said that the ministry of Agriculture together in collaboration with other stakeholders have embarked on reviewing policies in the sector in a bid to ensure improving the competitiveness of our fresh produce on international markets.

The major commodities traded in the countries horticulture basket include as passion fruit, fine beans, peas, berries, baby vegetables such as carrots, baby corn, baby marrow, courgettes, chillies and broccoli.