ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s coffee sector is eyeing a staggering 681% increase in annual export earnings from an average of US$1.3 million between 2010 and 2022 to a projected US$9.9 million by 2030.  

The ambitious goal hinges on the successful mobilization of a US$22 million fund for patient capital, a critical investment that can propel the industry to new heights. 

The announcement came during the second edition of the horticulture investment forum held in Harare, where the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) CEO, Mrs. Linda Nielsen, highlighted the immense potential of the coffee sector.  

Speaking under the theme ‘Opportunities in the field, policy, and all the way to the bank,’ Mrs. Nielsen emphasized the need for strategic investment to propel the country towards its US$1 billion horticulture industry target by 2030. 

Mrs. Nielsen outlined that the coffee sector requires the infusion of US$22 million in affordable long-term finance to expand cultivation to 1,000 hectares by 2030, up from the current 660 hectares.  

“This expansion aims to facilitate exports of 1.8 million kilograms of coffee annually, contributing significantly to the country’s foreign currency earnings,” she said. 

Michael Jenrich, the president of the Coffee Growers Association of Zimbabwe, emphasized that coffee, being a long-term crop, demands substantial capital in the initial four years before the harvest begins.  

“The industry, primarily supported by smallholder farmers, aligns well with HDC’s ‘Hub and Spoke’ model, fostering collaboration between smallholder farmers and larger producers for scalable quantities and quality,” he said. 

With unique selling propositions rooted in top-quality Arabica coffee with a balanced flavour profile, moderate acidity, and a pleasing aftertaste, Zimbabwe’s coffee holds a distinct position in the global market.  

Jenrich expressed optimism that the country’s mild Arabica coffee, known for its superior quality, would cater to the increasing global demand. 

Currently, the coffee sector involves 800 smallholder farmers on 220 hectares and two estates covering 440 hectares, totalling 660 hectares.  

This production yields 450 tonnes of green coffee valued at US$2 million. The revitalization plan for the industry envisions targeting 1,300 small-scale producers, 10 to 20 medium-scale farmers, and establishing a 100-hectare hub, reaching a cumulative 1,000 hectares by 2030. 

Key factors identified to enable the sector’s growth include the establishment of a dedicated coffee fund, providing affordable long-term loans for smallholder farmers, attracting investor funding, ensuring low-interest rates, implementing supportive regulations, and fostering sector coordination. 

Zimbabwe’s coffee exports witnessed fluctuating annual earnings, ranging from US$500,000 to US$2 million between 2010 and 2022.  

Notably, 2014 recorded the highest export quantity of 834,721 kilograms, while 2017 marked the lowest earnings at US$512,757. Last year’s export value hit 119,452 kilograms, the lowest in the 13-year period. 

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