Zim targets UAE food export market Dr Anxious Masuka

Elita Chikwati

Agriculture Reporter

Zimbabwe is eyeing expansion of exports of value added agricultural produce as the country takes advantage of trade opportunities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to grow the economy, create more jobs, entrench entrepreneurship and sharpen innovation along various agriculture and food value chains.

This comes as the UAE has expressed interest in partnering with Zimbabwe to explore and strengthen agri-business opportunities.

The UAE is a global trade and transit centre for a variety of goods and Africa can ship products to other market destinations via Dubai, which is part of the UAE.

Zimbabwe on the other hand, has vast tracts of arable land, a good climate, huge water resources and skilled manpower.

Dubai has only one percent of arable land and imports most of its agricultural produce. The UAE is also one of the major buyers of Zimbabwean tobacco.

The UAE Zimbabwe Food and Agribusiness Virtual Forum, organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry through the international office in Mozambique in partnership with DEAT Capital, DP Word and Dubai Exports, was convened yesterday to explore these opportunities.

The forum was meant to provide a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration between the two business communities and was in response to the growing interests in Zimbabwe’s public and private stakeholders keen to do business with their UAE counterparts.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman, Mr Majid Saif Al Ghurair said trade between the UAE and Africa had been increasing from year-to-year from US$490 million in 2011 to US$993 million in 2019.

“There are plenty of opportunities for Zimbabwe and Dubai to grow this. Covid-19 has brought a lot of challenges, but Dubai looks at the other side of challenges and sees opportunities.

“Our relations with Africa, especially Mozambique, has opened our eyes to growing business relations especially on food security,” he said.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka said Zimbabwe and Dubai should explore and cultivate win-win opportunities for the mutual benefit the two countries.

“Our President, His Excellency Dr E.D. Mnangagwa, led a high-powered delegation to the Global Business Forum Africa 2019 organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai,” he said.

“Our agriculture and food systems transformation strategy aims to increase agricultural output to US$8,2 billion by 2025 and to grow exports to USD$4,2 billion by 2025.

“We envisage export growth for flowers, fruits, vegetables and nuts. We also anticipate accelerated exports of tobacco, tea and sugar, among many others. Additionally, we yearn for the export of value-added produce and products,” he said.

Minister Masuka said Zimbabwe was open for business and there were various ease of doing business reforms undertaken in agriculture, for example, through the creation of a One Stop Exports Office which would improve logistics.

Dubai Chambers international offices director, Mr Omar Khan said: “The Dubai Chamber has been on a mission to reconnect Africa. We want to create opportunities for both sides,” he said.

Dubai Exports chief economist, Dr Ali Mahate said they were working on assisting women exporters.

“Women exporters have unique needs that require particular services. We are also encouraging Zimbabwean businesses to reach us to discover what value added products we may offer to the supply chain,” he said.

First Capital Bank chairman Patrick Devenish said Tugwi Mukosi presented a huge opportunity in Zimbabwe for investors due to its massive irrigation capacity.

“There is a huge opportunity for large scale investment to produce wheat, sugarcane and lucerne.

“Zimbabwe is going through a horticultural boom. There is massive production of blue berries.

“The world’s largest producer of passion fruit is Zimbabwean. We also produce the favourite tobacco at between 200 to 250 million kilogrammes,” he said.

He said Zimbabwe had a massive agriculture inputs structure in terms of equipment and machinery.

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