The ‘Return of Zimbabwe’ to horticulture export industry

0
1275
HPP Exhibitions President Dick Van Raamsdonk, organizer of Hortiflor Zimbabwe 2018, is upbeat about the return of Harare to the fold
Top

The Zimbabwe fresh produce show, International Horticulture & Floriculture Trade Fair ”HortiFlor Zimbabwe, will be staged at the Convention Center, Harare, from October 9-11 2018.

By CATHERINE RIUNGU

Nairobi, July 12, 2018. Following the exit of long-serving Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe early in the year, efforts are in top gear to revive the country’s horticulture industry whose fortunes dose-dived with the seizure of whites-owned farms in 2000.

The hostile takeover led to the collapse of major horticultural producers such as Kondozi Estate in Manicaland and Marondera’s Mitchell & Mitchell, which had a combined $50 million in annual export sales, being forcibly seized, run down and looted.

However, the bad times could be falling behind as reports from capital Harare reveal the return of the Exporters Flower Growers Association of Zimbabwe ( EFGAZ) that is preparing an exhibition in conjunction with HPP in October to officially relaunch the blooming of the once blossoming southern Africa nation’s horticulture industry as the strongest pointer yet of the country’s resolve to revive the high potential foreign exchange earner.

At its peak in 1999, Zimbabwe trailed Kenya as the second largest producer and exporter of cut flowers, fruits and vegetables in Africa, a position that has since been taken by Ethiopia. Exports grew to $32 million in 1991 from $3.5 million in 1986, contributing between 3.5 percent to 4. 5 percent of the GDP, and was second to tobacco in foreign currency earnings. In 1999, the country earned $143 million, $60 million from cut flowers. However, the earnings nosedived between 2000 and 2008, before bouncing back to $71 million in 2012 and $96 million in 2015, according to trade promotion agency Zimtrade. Despite the significant increase from $49 million the previous year, this is still about half of the country’s peak output recorded in the 1999/2000 season.

The Zimbabwe fresh produce show, International Horticulture & Floriculture Trade Fair ”HortiFlor Zimbabwe, will be staged at the Convention Center, Harare, from October 9-11 2018. Growers, exporters, suppliers and investors will meet during the three-day day event, with the purpose of increasing production and exports. Hortiflor Zimbabwe organizer Dick Van Raamsdonk the HPP exhibitions President is upbeat and said in Nairobi, Kenya, during the International Flower Trade Exhibition (IFTEX) in June Zimbabwe was coming up fast to reclaim its lost glory.

Command Agriculture Scheme

Government is targeting to surpass the $143 million mark from horticultural export proceeds next year after extending the sector to Command Agriculture Scheme.

According to reports in the Herald newspaper published in Harare, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri, said extending the horticulture sector to Command Agriculture is one of the strategies to revive the sector, which will avert poverty, hunger and malnutrition in addition to generating foreign currency and creating employment opportunities down the value chain.

“Starting from 2018 /2019 summer cropping season we will be extending Command Agriculture to horticultural sector. This will help the country to earn much needed foreign currency”, Herald quotes the Minister as saying.
“We have already agreed with some private players to begin the programme and funds mobilisation is already underway to start the programme next season,” said Minister Shiri.

Minister Shiri said revival of the horticultural sector as a top foreign currency earner, was a top priority for Government and access to penetrate foreign markets, setting up of irrigation and mechanisation structures will help to revive the sector. He said the major reason for the rebound of the horticultural sector was better coordination through the Horticulture Promotion Council (HPC), minimum regulation, a market-driven production strategy, high profile image in the international markets, good infrastructure and abundant land.

“The horticulture sector is now dominated by small-scale production outfits that are dotted across the country and are saddled with technological and skills challenges, inadequate credit lines to finance production” Minister Shiri said. Other challenges include lack of, specialised transport and farm equipment.

Last year, Germany expressed interest to import 15 horticultural crops from Zimbabwe, a development likely to earn the country millions of dollars in foreign currency, as the demand for organic crops increases.

The recently announced measures in the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy-

In 2016 the government removed export permits for the horticultural sector as part of measures to compliment export development and promotion initiatives being spearheaded by ZimTrade.

The removal of export permits is aimed at improving competitiveness of the country’s flower exports through reduction of costs associated with regulation documents, long waiting periods of processing licenses and approvals as well as exhaustive processing of export documentation.

Zimbabwe produces roses, proteas, asters and chrysanthemums. The Netherlands is its largest export destination for cut flowers, importing an average of 69 percent in the last 15 years. In order for local flower growers to keep abreast with state-of- the-art production practices as well as marketing techniques, producers should interact with the Zimbabwe Trade Information Portal (Smart tools and trade map) in order to obtain information on the latest trends, according to a report by International Trade Centre.

EU market

The government has committed to re-engage the European markets and facilitate partnerships, contract farming and financial support. Floriculture accounts for at least 70 percent of the total value of horticultural exports and 30 percent by volume, which amounts to 14,500 tonnes. The European Union consumes the bulk of Zimbabwe’s exports, with the United Kingdom ($13.5 million), Germany ($5.3 million), France ($3.2 million) and Poland ($2.9 million) taking up a combined $57.5 million worth of produce. Most exports, spanning a season from mid-September to late May, are channelled to the Dutch auctions. South Africa imported fresh produce worth $2.1 million from Zimbabwe last year.

Citrus was the leading export horticulture product in 2015, making up 32 percent of total volumes, followed by flowers at 25 percent, peas at 19 percent, dried leguminous vegetables at 11 percent, berries at 7 percent while an assortment of other produce made up the remaining 6 percent.

Zimbabwe is currently the leading exporter of peas into the European Union, but supplies only 3 percent of the bloc’s exotic fruit, according to the Dutch Embassy.

Hortiflor Zimbabwe

From Tuesday October 9 to Thursday October 11 the first edition of a new exhibition “HortiFlor Zimbabwe” will be organized in Zimbabwe, Africa. The trade fair that will be focusing on the promotion of the Zimbabwean horticulture and floriculture industry, will take place in the Harare International Convention Center, the HICC.

HortiFlor will be a platform meant to bring together international suppliers from the fresh flower & fresh produce industry, to meet with growers, farmers, traders, investors and (non) governmental bodies from Zimbabwe with the goal to increase production, trade & exports of Zimbabwean grown flowers, vegetables and fruits. For this purpose suppliers, but also growers, will be able to display their products and produce during this 3 day trade fair. Furthermore a conference will be held for which keynote speakers will be invited as well as workshops and seminars that will be part of the programme.

With this initiative HortiFlor hopes to contribute to the further growth of production and consequently exports of floriculture products and horticulture produce to Europe, but also to other regions in the world.

Catherine.riungu@hortinews.co.ke
@catherineriungu