Emmah Chinyamutangira Manicaland Correspondent
ZIMTRADE is coordinating horticulture farmers in Manicaland to grow fruits that are in high demand on the international market, in a bid to increase exports.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Manicaland business awards last week, Zimtrade export development manager Mr Tatenda Marume said Manicaland had high potential to add on exports through horticulture, hence they were capacitating farmers on export techniques.
He said the company engaged international consultants to assist farmers with ways of increasing productivity.
“Manicaland has many horticulture products that are in high demand on the international market and we are engaging small-scale farmers in various horticulture projects to increase the export bill,” said Mr Marume.
“There are seven products that we have targeted under the European Union-funded Trade Comm II project which seeks to capacitate smallholder farmers and irrigation schemes doing niche products.”
Mr Marume said Zimtrade carried out a baseline study in May to identify areas where local farmers required assistance for them to comply with international standards.
He said products under consideration include pineapples, macadamia nuts, avocadoes, bananas, paprika, chilies, as well as flowers. Mr Marume said so far, the trade facilitation body had engaged some small-scale pineapple growers in Ndiyadzo, Chipinge, to help them gain access to the lucrative European organic market.
He said the project did not offer inputs, but would capacitate farmers with technical skills.
“We want to create a conducive environment for exporters while we are facilitating the organic certification process and an off-take agreement with a Dutch buyer that is already in place,” said Mr Marume.
“The certification process was supposed to happen first week of May, but the area had been affected by Cyclone Idai. We are trying to resuscitate the area by end of this year so that growers will be certified to export their products to Europe.
“We are also planning on assisting farmers with a sweet potato project since there are also many Asian companies that are interested in importing them from our country.”
Mr Marume indicated that they were assisting exporters to add value and improving quality of their products.