Edgar Vhera-Agriculture Specialist Writer

WITH the horticulture industry targeting   US$1 billion in exports by 2030, the Government has deepened its role in facilitating private investments after the sector recorded a modest 14 percent growth between 2020 and 2022 against the minimum target of 30 percent a year. 

The country’s horticultural exports grew from US$71 648 371 in 2020 to US$81 608 300 in 2022.

Speaking at the recent horticulture investment forum, Strategic Planning and Business Development (SPBD) chief director Mr Clemence Bwenje outlined some of the interventions that the Government was undertaking to improve horticultural production and export earnings.

“Horticulture development is anchored on four pillars of policy, investments, research, technology and innovation as well as coordination, collaboration and partnership. Pursuant to Agriculture and Food Systems Rural Transformation Strategy (AFSRTS), the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan (HRGP) seeks to support the conventional and transformative rural horticulture sector,” he said.

The HRGP seeks to grow area under conventional horticulture from 36 600 to 55 300 hectares by 2025 with a gross value of US$3, 3 billion by 2025. The Presidential Horticulture Scheme (PHS) is targeting 1,8 million rural households and increasing their incomes from US$675 to US$2 000 per annum. The PHS is targeting to distribute 10 fruit trees per household — a total of 18 million trees by 2025. It is also targeting 35 000 and 9 600 village and school nutrition gardens respectively.

Among the specific projects facilitated by Government are the smallholder agriculture cluster programme (SACP) and horticulture enterprise enhancement project (HEEP).

“The SACP co-financed to a tune of
US$67,44 million by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development and the Government of Zimbabwe is set to increase smallholder participation in market-oriented production and climate smart value chains. It targets smallholder farmers with access to irrigation and will reach out to 78,240 low-income household beneficiaries in 18 districts located in five provinces of Matabeleland North, Midlands, Mashonaland East, West and Central provinces,” Mr Bwenje added.

HEEP will provide US$66,9 million for horticulture development targeting 71 000 smallholder farmers engaged in profitable and sustainable horticulture value chains through linking them to markets and finance in eight provinces, he said.

Mr Bwenje said HEEP will employ the hub and spoke model to also support 620 village horticulture garden (VHG) and enterprises in 20 districts of Matabeleland South, Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces.  

The Zimbabwe Smallholder Empowerment and Promotion (ZIM-SHEP), Smallholder Horticulture Recovery and Inclusion Project (SHRIP) and Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) stand as some of the specific projects facilitated by Government.

The Government is supporting the horticulture industry through facilitation of joint ventures with over 200 000 hectares on the books to date to give confidence to farmers and investors, thereby promoting the hub and spoke model.

Among the projects supported for implementation are Dodhil’s citrus, Matanuska greenbelt’s bananas, apples and flower projects as well as Zambezi Fresh’s blueberries, olericulture ventures, he said.

“Following the conclusion of citrus trade protocol with China, conversations are ongoing on signing the protocol for avocados, macadamia and pecan nuts. Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 6 of 2016, which was providing for rebates of duty and was replaced by (S.I.) 121 of 2022 with companies now approaching the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority  directly,” the chief director said.

He called on horticulture stakeholders to reach out to them with proposals to add other items under duty free imports to enable them to lobby their counterparts in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion to chip in.

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