‘Efficient transport system key for horticulture exports’ Mr Majuru

Fildah Gwati

AS the country’s marches towards attaining Vision 2030, the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) is engaging Government to facilitate the upgrading of roads and border facilities for the easy conveyance of horticultural exports.

In a recent X (formerly twitter) post, HDC said: “To keep growing our horticulture exports, we need the supporting infrastructure. When roads are in bad shape, our produce is affected. We continue to engage authorities to upgrade our roads and make our borders more efficient.”

According to HDC, each year trucks carry some 36 000 tonnes of fruit grown by farmers through the Chipinge-Birchenough Bridge Road. In essence, that is 1 440 twenty-five-tonne trucks yet the road is in bad shape.

The deteriorating condition of roads has emerged as a significant obstacle to the transportation of produce and is negatively impacting the quality and profitability of exports, as produce is often damaged along the way.

“As a result of poor road infrastructure, farmers may end up getting lower prices and for the sector to meet its potential there is need for more support in investment in infrastructure,” said HDC.

HDC stressed that without adequate roads and transport networks, the sector would fail to reach its full potential hindering the country’s ability to expand horticulture exports.

The horticulture sector’s plea for infrastructure investment serves as a rallying call to prioritise the development of roads and border facilities. As the nation’s horticultural exports hold substantial economic potential, it is imperative for stakeholders to unite in their endeavours to secure a sustainable future for the industry.

Meanwhile, EU markets’ cold sterilisation protocols are reportedly impacting negatively on export viability both in terms of costs and capacity. Zimbabwe does not have the cold sterilisation facilities and relies on partnerships with South Africa to get the services. The implementation of these new regulations in July 2023 has created quite some disruption to the flow of business.

“Zimbabwe export opportunities continue to be limited and constrained by cross-border logistical costs compared with competing SA’s fruit offers,” added a report from HDC

National trade development and promotion organisation, ZimTrade, chief executive officer Mr Allan Majuru chipped in saying for Zimbabwe to realise its full potential, it has to address the aforesaid challenges and invest in sustainable and innovative solutions.

There are areas with infrastructure gaps that will be more useful if adequate facilities such as pack sheds, cold-room facilities and railways are constructed.

“The Second Republic has adopted and implemented many programmes and strategies in the past few years, which have been very helpful.  Government is focusing on implementing policies and providing relevant support programmes that promote the horticulture sector. These include providing incentives, improving infrastructure and facilitating market access,” he added.

Statistics from Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) show that export earnings from the horticultural sector grew 14 percent from US$72 million in 2020 to US$82 million in 2022.

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