Manicaland horticulture farmers urged to expand markets
CHIPINGE TIMES REPORTER
MUTARE-Horticulture farmers in Manicaland are urged to tap into readily available regional and international markets.
ZimTrade Eastern Region Development Manager, Admire Jongwe, said local produce is regarded highly on regional and international markets for its original and exceptional taste. Jongwe said farmers should capitalise on this perception to export to new markets.
Jongwe was speaking at the sidelines of a Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) one-day seminar held at a local hotel in Mutare.
He said Zimbabwe is a signatory to several bilateral agreements which allow duty-free export of horticulture produce to countries such as Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.
“Zimbabwe is known for producing tasty super fruits, and our products are viewed highly in terms of taste. There is a general perception that Zimbabwe produces tasty products. We need to leverage this perception and goodwill.
“We used to have a diverse basket in 1992 when we were exporting to various regions like South Africa, the United States of America and European nations. Our basket is shifting hence we now need to tap into other regional markets besides Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana. The bilateral agreements that Zimbabwe is signatory to allow us to export duty-free to nations like Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia,” he said.
Manicaland is the hub of horticulture produce such as pineapples, macadamia nuts, avocados and bananas supplied across the country and parts of the region.
ZimTrade officials said that the top export markets for 2022 are SA, United Arab Emirates, Mozambique, China 4%, Belgium, Zambia and Botswana. SA accounted for 49 per cent.
Manicaland Permanent Secretary for Devolution, Edgar Seenza, said that SMEs’ competitiveness was affected by access to finance, regulatory environment, lack of innovation activities and implementation of best practices among other factors. He said there is a need to change and improve for the farmers to tap into the markets.
He also said that horticulture farmers should concentrate on areas of competitive advantage before spreading their wings to international markets.
“It is no longer time to have ordinary local markets, but we need to produce efficiently with expected quality and prices for our intended markets,” he said.