Horticulture to boost agric economy Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka

Herald Reporter

The horticulture sub-sector has potential to contribute to a robust agricultural sector through import substitution, food security, exports, employment creation and raising household incomes, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, has said.

Export earnings from horticulture will more than double to US$143 million from the US$64 million realised last year after the Government implemented policies that have revived the horticultural space.

Last year, the Government launched a US$30 million Horticulture Export Revolving Fund (HERF) to enhance the sector’s contribution to national export earnings and economic growth.

Minister Masuka, who was represented by an official from his ministry during the Italian Fruit and Vegetable Fair (MCFRUT) held in Harare yesterday, said the horticulture sub-sector was contributing immensely to the development and promotion of international trade.

“The sector is set to contribute 10 percent of the country’s total export earnings,” he said. “In order to release this potential, Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan (HRGP) has two broad focus areas which are a private sector-driven recovery of the conventional horticulture sub-sector, and more importantly, a robust, inclusive, sustainable and transformative rural horticulture subsector.”

The Conventional Horticulture Plan seeks to grow the area under horticulture from 6,606 hectares to 55,348 hectares and production from 6,6 million hectares to 7,7 million hectares by 2025.

MCFRUT is the international trade fair dedicated to the fruit and vegetable supply chain, now in its 41st edition, taking place at the Rimini, Italy, exhibition centre from May 3 to 5 this year.

Minister Masuka said Zimbabwe was renowned for the quality of its organic horticultural produce, which includes macadamia, avocadoes, blueberries, oranges, bananas, tea, coffee and pineapples.

He said these opportunities were further reinforced by the fact that Zimbabwe had large market access for blueberries in the European Union, which can be accessed through Economic Partnership Agreements.

Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister, Raj Modi, said there was need to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which has over 1,4 billion people.

He said fruits such as avocados, peaches and pineapples could do well in the Italian market, hence farmers and the entire agro value chain should grab the opportunity.

“The economic relationship between Zimbabwe and Italy has been growing,” he said. “In 2016 and 2021, Zimbabwe exported at least 2,3 million euros’ worth of horticulture products whilst we have been importing machinery and other related goods from them.

“Italy’s horticultural exports to Africa during the same period ranged between 12 and 14 million euros annually, hence the need for us to continue working together in order for us to consolidate our already stronger economic ties.”

ltalian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Umberto Malnati said collaboration in the horticulture sector will foster stronger ties between the two countries.

“Our collaboration in this sector will provide a concrete and effective contribution to the economies of both our countries and corroborate public development cooperation,” he said.

The agricultural sector in Zimbabwe has always been one of the most important sectors to the economy as it accounts for 14 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Agriculture also employs 70 percent of the country’s workforce.

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