Flower exports gross US$3,6m in 2023

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

FLOWER exports earned the country US$3, 6 million in 2023 marking a two percent increase from US$3, 5 million in 2022, with the nation’s horticulture promotion body, Horticultural Development Council (HDC) calling for policy interventions to grow the sector.

Trade statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) for 2023 show that there was a two percent growth in flower exports from US$3 491 812 in 2022 to US$3 556 832 last year.

Volumes, however, decreased 20 percent from 2 633 693 to 2 117 214 kilogrammes in the same period.

The increased earnings were due to the 27 percent rise in average flower price from US$1, 33 to US$1, 68 per kilogramme.

Fresh roses, other fresh cut flowers, foliage, branches and other parts of plants without flowers are among the products under the flower emblem.

However, the HDC has revealed that flower growers are facing several challenges such as the lack of capital, high production costs, unreliable and expensive power supplies and negative effects of the exchange rate among others.

“Labour contributes 60 percent of production costs and the recent increases in wages, alongside other costs, have a significant impact on viability,” HDC chief executive officer Mrs Linda Nielsen said.

In its general notice 005/2024, the National Employment Council for the Agricultural Industry in Zimbabwe (NEC Agriculture) set the general agriculture sub-sector minimum wages schedule that had a foreign and local currency component with effect from July 1 last year. The lowest grade (A1) employee’s wage was set at US$70 with that of the highest grade (C2) at US$139. The local and foreign currency split are 40 and 60 percent with the interbank rate on the 20th of every month used to calculate the local currency component.

Mrs Nielsen said these issues could be addressed through Government policies that promote investment in the sector to enable flower producers to realise their full potential and make a more significant contribution to the national economy.

She said the 75 percent foreign currency retention for export proceeds and the retention period also stifled investment.

Speaking at the second edition of the horticulture investment forum in Harare recently, Mrs Nielsen said the flower sector was targeting production on 800 hectares for an output of 13 500 tonnes to contribute to the achievement of a US$1 billion horticulture industry by 2030.

Such hectarage requires patient finances amounting to US$80 million and involved incorporation of smallholder farmers under the ‘hub and spoke’ model, she added.

Speaking at the same forum, United Kingdom (UK) ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Pete Vowles challenged local horticulture exporters to take advantage of the UK’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that provides a ready market and additional benefits such as exemption from duty.

Among the policies that horticulture exporters want the Government to refine and revise are the Carrot and Stick Framework of 2005, floriculture pre-and-post shipment facility of 2016, as well as increase the foreign currency retention percentage among others.

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