NHIMBE Fresh Produce, Zimbabwe’s leading horticultural firm is struggling to navigate the web of bureaucracy to get an import protocol to export blueberries to China.
Chief executive Mr Edwin Moyo told The Herald Finance & Business that the import protocol would pave way for China to do quality checks before the commodity can be exported.
Apart from exporting blueberries, China also expressed interest in avocados and macadamia. This comes at a time when the uptake of macadamia and avocado production is on the increase.
Nhimbe is producing berries on its 200 hectare farm in Marondera and the produce is expected to complement supplies from Zambezi Berry Company of Zambia, which is already exporting after it got approvals from Chinese authorities.
“The interest is massive but it’s taking too long; its two years now,” said Mr Moyo.
“We need a protocol from General Administration of Customs of China to have access to China.
“The last time we checked with the Ministry of Agriculture, they told us the matter had been referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
“We are blowing the opportunity. Our counterparts in Zambia are already exporting to China and the sad part of it is that it’s only Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa who produces the special type of the berries that the Chinese want.”
Efforts to get comments from ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture were unsuccessful.
Being Africa’s premier producer of horticultural produce, Nhimbe produces fresh vegetables, blueberries, a variety of berries among others mainly for export market.
Recently, the company secured a US$15 million facility from United Arab Emirates investor to expand its fruit production. Mr Moyo, the former owner of Kondozi, said the money would be spend of resuscitating macadamia and avocado orchards.
“China is a big market for macadamia and avocado and they are interested,” he said. “We are looking at using our extra financial capacity…to assist people without capacity. That will increase our capacity to export these commodities to China,” he said.
Macadamia and avocado farming has until recently, been grown on a smaller scale, but with substantial investments in production of high value commodities, Zimbabwe could soon earn significant amount of foreign currency from two commodities. Zimbabwe stands out to benefit from projected expansion of avocado and macadamia as increasing awareness on health diet would have a positive impact on the commodities.
Macadamia Association of Zimbabwe, a lobby group which represents commercial and small-scale farmers said the area under production was expected to double to about 10 000 hectares. Funding, however remains a challenge and the association is seeking Government assistance while on the other hand, quoting private companies to support through contract schemes.