The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business reporter
EXPORT development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, is scaling up collaborations with farmers to boost local production and exports of the globally highly sought-after garlic because of its health benefits.
In its latest monthly newsletter, ZimTrade said in line with the country’s devolution agenda the body was developing clusters across all the provinces.
“In line with Zimbabwe’s devolution agenda, ZimTrade is developing clusters across all provinces, focusing on products and services that are easy to produce. To complement the Government’s agenda, ZimTrade is taking garlic production nationwide, with results expected to improve the contribution of rural communities to national exports,” read part of the newsletter.
The trade body said there was a major drive around establishing garlic clusters in all provinces, which is expected to boost exports from the product and improve the livelihoods of rural communities.
“The number of garlic small holder farmers is growing due to the increasing demand both locally and internationally because of its health benefits. Research has shown that garlic is one of the crops that smallholder farmers and rural communities can grow on a commercial scale,” said ZimTrade.
The organisation said it is working with farmers in the various provinces, to enable the nation to have adequate garlic throughout the year and much more necessary for the nation to export the product into the regional markets.
ZimTrade highlighted that due to its adaptability in various climates and ecological zones, the crop will be taken to all corners of the country.
Recently, a garlic export programme was launched in Gutu where ZimTrade pledged to support the community in building capacity and creating market linkages. Similar launch programmes were also held in Somabhula and Plumtree where garlic, ginger and turmeric demo plots were established.
“To augment the gains realised in Gutu, Somabhula and Plumtree, ZimTrade will be setting up demonstration plots in Wedza, Kadoma, Zvimba, Gweru and Plumtree. The purpose of these demonstration plots is to inculcate production knowhow to the farmers in the various districts.”
According to Trade Map there has been significant growth of world import bill of garlic over the past 20 years, from around US$500 million in 2001 to US$2.48 billion in 2019. Top importers of garlic last year were Indonesia (US$530 million), Brazil (US$225 million), United States of America (US$200 million), Malaysia (US$119 million), Russian Federation (US$76 million), Bangladesh (US$75 million), and Germany (US$70 million). Other top importers last year were also United Kingdom (US$61 million), Pakistan (58 million), Italy (US$55 million), France (US$55 million), United Arab Emirates (US$52 million), Saudi Arabia (US$52 million), Netherlands (US$51 million).
The total global imports of garlic grew by US$367 million in 2019, from US$2.1 billion recorded the previous year. In 2019, total quantities imported around the world stood at two million tonnes. ZimTrade noted that Zimbabwean exports of garlic were currently negligible. However, should the various districts embrace production of garlic, the excess supply can be exported regionally and even to international markets.
“Regionally there is potential to increase the exports of garlic exports to South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, and Mozambique. In Zimbabwe garlic is grown in most parts of the country because it is less complex to manage as compared to other crops because it only requires soil moisture to be maintained during the entire period.”
There are about 600 varieties of garlic grown around the world. The two main types are hardneck (or topset) and softneck (artichoke garlic). Hardneck varieties sprout during early summer producing a tall, flower stalk.
ZimTrade said there was considerable variability in the size and number of bulbs produced by hardneck garlic varieties and they are more winter-hardy and produce larger cloves but have a shorter storage life than soft neck varieties.
It also noted that the softneck garlic usually found in supermarkets and often imported, has better storage traits and easier to braid than hardnecks.
“Softnecks grows best warm winter areas. Garlic can grow well in a wide range of climates, but extreme weather conditions affect optimum growth of the crop. Wet conditions are best for growing garlic thus growing it during the rainy season is ideal, though excess rainfall dampen crop production,” said ZimTrade.