Horticulture sector poised for growth

28 Aug, 2023 - 00:08 0 Views
Horticulture sector poised for growth

eBusiness Weekly

Michael Tome

THE horticulture sector says it projects potential growth in the sector’s productivity and exports, spurred by funding from the Horticultural Export Revolving Fund and loan facilities from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Immediately the sector is looking at enhancing production and export of blueberries, citrus, coffee and flowers.

Treasury last year allocated US$30 million horticulture export revolving fund from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights.

The US$30 million horticulture revolving fund was launched last September to capacitate local farmers in boosting production and tackling challenges related to the unavailability of appropriately structured financing for short to long-term expenditures.

Increasing horticultural production through value addition and beneficiation is in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025), whose main objective is to structurally transform Zimbabwe’s economy from one highly dependent on the export of agricultural raw materials to an economy trading in high value processed goods.

On the other hand NMB bank received a €12, 5 million line of credit from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in June 2022 to support of export-focused sectors of the economy including the horticulture sector.

The bank late last year indicated that it would continue to look out for more lines of credit to satisfy the huge demand coming from its exporting clientele.

The facility which has a seven-year tenure is meant to assist in the sustenance of exporting entities through availing of trade-enabling working capital needs.

The availed funding schemes are anticipated to enhance the sector’s performance through value addition and beneficiation of fresh produce, this will likely bolster the country’s export of horticultural produce

According to the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStats), the country in 2022 realised US$86, 6 million from horticulture exports a 12 percent increase growth from US$72, 9 million in 2021.

According to the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Ministry 2022-2023 crop assessment report, Zimbabwe is projected to have a 69 percent increase in blueberries harvest followed by pecan nuts at 43 percent and apples at 29 percent.

The country’s fresh and dried citrus exports reached US$33, 8 million in 2022 and have potential to grow if adequately funded.

Also under the Presidential Horticulture Recovery Programe, Zimbabwe is earmarked to generate at least US$143 million from the export of horticultural products by 2024.

The programme targets to plant 18 million fruit trees by 2025; 10 fruit trees per household in 25 000 villages as well as 300 fruit trees for every school in the country.

Nhimbe fresh produce, chief executive officer, Dr Edwin Moyo, said the sector exudes massive potential and could easily be one of the country’s best foreign currency earners.

“Horticulture is one of the most important sectors of the economy, we can be able to earn because if fully supported by the financial sector and the government.

“The sector will bring us a lot of foreign currency if we maximize our horticulture products, there is a lot of demand from China, Dubai and Europe. So we have all these funding structures that we are trying to put in place. We have the farmers, we have the markets,” said Dr Moyo.

He however urged the government to timeously disburse the funding mostly as soon as it is announced.

This comes at a time when the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) is advancing the production of blueberries, citrus, coffee and flowers.

According to Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency’s (ZIDA) first quarter report HDC submitted its plans to secure an additional 4 000 hectares for blueberry production estimated to cost US$140 million to develop.

For coffee production , the HDC plans to establish and manage 1 000 hectares of coffee in the eastern Highlands (Manicaland) and support 1 300 small and medium scale coffee producers to produce 2,220 tonnes per year with a gross value of over US$11 million annually and creating more than 2, 000 jobs.

“ZIDA is providing facilitation and assistance with land identification and acquisition, creation of special export horticulture economic zones, creation of specialised export horticultural parks for value addition and beneficiation so that the council is able to achieve its set target of a US$1 billion horticulture industry by 2030,” said in the 2023 first quarter report.

Rose production is expected to increase with a further 800 hectares driven by increased demand from South Africa, Russia and the Far East market estimated to be worth around US$277 million in export in export proceeds.

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