Zim reclaiming breadbasket status . . . as country is now fastest growing blueberries exporter

Wallace Ruzvidzo

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE has been listed among the world’s largest exporters of blueberries as the country’s revival of the agriculture sector continues to produce huge dividends with a global impact.

Already, Zimbabwe has broken successive wheat production records as it has this season produced 468 000 tonnes of the special cereal with a surplus for export.

The country also recently broke tobacco production records as it, for the first time in its history, produced almost 300 million kg of the golden leaf, with 210 million kg of that having already been exported and subsequently earning Zimbabwe over US$1 billion.

Now, EastFruit, an international team of analysts which is the leading international information and analytical platform for the fruit and vegetable business in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, announced Zimbabwe’s ascendancy to the top in blueberries production.

These successive records in blueberry, wheat and tobacco production among other crops have come on the back of a scientific approach to agriculture by President Mnangagwa, whose major focus is agricultural modernisation and mechanisation for increased productivity and production.

Thus, Zimbabwe is now targeting a US$13,75 billion agriculture sector economy by 2025 after it surpassed the initial US$8,2 billion target last year, well ahead of schedule.

Commenting on Zimbabwe’s blueberry export achievement, Mr Andrij Yarmak, an economist at the investment department of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said Zimbabwe is proving to be a blueberry exporter of note as evidenced by trends over the last few years.

Last year, the country’s blueberry exports grew by 85 percent, surpassing 5 000 tonnes thus earning a place in the top 15 global exporters list.

Additionally, over the past five years, blueberry exports from Zimbabwe have increased by 63 percent annually.

“In 2022, exports grew by 85 percent or 2,3oo tonnes and exceeded 5 000 tonnes, which allowed the country to enter the top 15 countries in blueberry exports and overtake Serbia in volume,” Mr Yarmak said.

“On average over the past five years, Zimbabwe has increased blueberry exports by 63 percent each year or by 1,200 tonnes.”

Political commentator Mr Rutendo Matinyarare also weighed in saying Zimbabwe had defied the odds and proved that the Land Reform Programme had truly been a success.

“The world once celebrated that Zimbabwe had fallen from being the breadbasket of Africa, as a means to prove that black people can’t farm.

“However, today, Zimbabwe with record-breaking wheat and tobacco production in 2022 and 2023, is now the biggest exporter of blueberries in the world.

“This proves that Zimbabwe is indeed taking back its title of being the breadbasket of Africa under black farmers and land ownership,” he said.

President Mnangagwa is on record as charging exporters to build synergies as well as ensure guaranteed supplies of produce to global markets.

“You must ensure that the established export markets have sustainable supply chains. There is a need to focus on niche products and markets towards improved export performance in line with global trends.

“On its part, my Government, guided by the philosophy, ‘Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none’, will do its part to give an edge to our private sector to further diversify into global markets and value chains,” said the President at an exporters indaba held in Harare last month.

According to Blueberries Consulting, this year Zimbabwe’s blueberry exports are expected to grow by between 30 to 40 percent, taking tonnage to between 6,500 and 7 000 tonnes.

Zimbabwe’s blueberries are mainly exported to South Africa, the United Kingdom (UK), Russia, European Union (EU) member states and countries in the Middle East.

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