Matabeleland farmers urged to tap into horticulture

20 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views
Matabeleland farmers urged to tap into horticulture horticulture

The Sunday News

Judith Phiri, Business Reporter 

FARMERS in Matabeleland have been urged to tap into horticulture production, which has been identified as one of the priority areas with potential to contribute immensely towards the growth of the country’s exports. 

Zimbabwe’s horticultural sector is fast emerging as a major driving force for the development of the agricultural sector in the country. 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 348 percent from 85,3 tonnes in 2020-2021 to 374 tonnes in 2021-2022. 

In a presentation during the Matabeleland Horticulture Export Awareness Seminar on Friday, ZimTrade client advisor Mr Tawanda Chiware said to start exporting, one needs to be ready and there were various factors to consider on readiness. 

“These factors include management commitment, product quality, production to be committed to meet export markets, knowledge on international competitors, their products and prices. While also one has to consider their finance and physical resources and have an export plan,” said Mr Chiware. 

He encouraged farmers to conduct research on issues such as market size and consumption patterns, export procedures and quality, packaging and labelling requirements in the target markets. Mr Chiware said they also needed to know what distribution channels they are going to use as they prepare for export market penetration. 

In terms of the market entry strategies, he added: “Strategies are different for each country, as farmers you could opt for direct exporting, distributorship and agents in countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana and partnership with locals in the target market in countries such as Angola and Zambia. 

“Other options you can set-up or open branches in target market, tender bids, participate at trade fairs which can be in store or solo exhibitions. Farmers can also attend inward or outward trade missions in countries like Dubai and United Kingdom (UK). Also, at the same time leverage on the Diaspora through Diaspora Engagement Forums.” 

Fair Mark Compliance consultant and expert on Global Gap certification, Mr Clarence Mwale emphasised that the critical element to consider in export business was to find a market first. 

“As a farmer before you grow your horticulture crops for export find a market first because markets have different set of standards and mandatory requirements. Another key consideration in export business is not the size of production but the quality of produce,” said Mr Mwale. 

He said it was also important for farmers who want to export to learn from other farmers already exporting horticulture produce and have the requisite knowledge on GlobalGap certification process and the costs involved. 

GlobalGap is a trademark and a set of standards for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). It is a global organisation with a crucial objective, that is safe, sustainable agriculture worldwide, which sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe. 

Mr Mwale said in addition to GlobalGap the social audit process required as a minimum is called Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA). 

“SEDEX is a membership organisation for businesses committed to continuous improvement of the ethical performance of their production-distribution chains. In practice, SEDEX provides companies with a database enabling them to store and exchange information and audits of an ethical nature.” 

Meanwhile, the horticulture sector is on a growth trajectory, with a major facelift that recently saw Government launching a US$30 million Horticulture Export Revolving Fund (HERF) in September. 

The Fund is expected to see the recovery and growth of the sector as a major driving force in the development of agriculture.

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