Govt to resuscitate HPC
Michael Tome Business Reporter
Government has stepped up efforts to resuscitate the Horticulture Promotion Council (HPC) to enable the horticulture sector reclaim its position as the second major foreign currency earner in the country after tobacco.
At its peak in 1999, the sector earned the country US$143 million from exports and since then, it has been on the downward trend. Exports fell to about US$72 million in 2005 and US$40 million in 2009, mainly as a result of the demise of the HPC. However, 2017 witnessed a rebound in volume of exports of horticulture produce, riding on a deliberate import substitution policy as enunciated in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
Addressing stakeholders at a workshop on strategies to revive the horticulture sector on Wednesday, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, said his ministry was interested in revamping the HPC among a set of other initiatives meant to bolster production in the sector.
“My ministry is keen to see the Horticulture Promotion Council come back to life to drive the horticulture sector. You may be aware that my ministry is already working on an Agriculture Marketing and Trade Policy, a Horticulture Development Policy and a Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Policy and has its foot on the ease of doing business paddle,” Minister Shiri said.
He called upon the private sector to take the central role in tackling issues bedeviling the sector, while Government will focus on creating production friendly environment to encourage competitiveness.
“Government is keen to see the private sector take the leading role in addressing the challenges that face the sector, while it focuses more on creating an enabling trade and investment environment characterised by incentives and ease of doing business to allow regional and international competitiveness.
“I challenge this workshop to explore among other important issues, the establishment of a standing committee on the Horticulture Sector Resuscitation, Promotion and Expansion that comprise public and private sectors as well as development partners and civil society,” added Minister Shiri.
He lauded the Horticulture Development Strategy being spearheaded by the European Union in partnership with the private sector, as it was an insurmountable task for Government to resuscitate the sector alone.
“I am aware of the EU funded initiative — the Trade and Private Sector Development Programme (TPSDP) — that has recently produced a development strategy document for the horticulture and associated crops sector through a private sector driven process.
“My ministry applauds such initiatives and Government is seeking to build on and complement your good initiative. The recovery of the agriculture sector and the horticulture sub-sector in particular, cannot be left to Government alone. It is a national cause and private sector and civil society are equally important in contributing to Government efforts of resuscitating the horticulture sector,” said Minister Shiri.