ZimTrade to capacitate smallholder horticulture farmers Masvingo Province has the potential to generate US$386 million from exports of horticulture produce, ranging from citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and wild fruits like marula (File Picture)

Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter

ZimTrade is working to capacitate thousands of smallholder horticulture farmers in Masvingo Province to help them unlock the province’s estimated US$386 million export potential.

The initiatives also involve reviving fruit plantations in the province with the capacity to generate hundreds of millions of US dollars from exports.

Zimbabwe is angling for export-led economic growth, which is expected to contribute towards achieving an upper-middle-income economy as espoused in the National Development Strategy (NDS1).

A study done by the trade promotion body revealed the province has the potential to generate US$386 million in exports of horticulture produce, ranging from citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and wild fruits like marula. Areas of interest are Chiredzi, Gutu, Mwenezi and Chivi districts.

ZimTrade has since embarked on a programme to capacitate farmers in the province to be export competitive in order to tap into the huge markets presented in China, Dubai as well as regional markets like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Leveraging on its areas of competitiveness, ZimTrade is currently implementing an array of programmes to make the Province a horticulture export zone due to its numerous dams, excellent soils, and climate.

“There is room for farmers and agro players in Masvingo to take advantage of the favourable agricultural conditions and grow competitive agricultural and horticulture products such as citrus, mangoes, garlic, chillies, marula value-added products, peas, beans, sweet potatoes and pecan nuts.

“What is required going forward is to capacitate producers across all districts in Masvingo Province with enough skills, infrastructure, and other resources to take full advantage of already existing advantages,” said ZimTrade.

ZimTrade is also working with farmers in Chiredzi for the resuscitation of the million–dollar Hippo Valley citrus project in the area which has the potential to generate millions of dollars in foreign currency annually.

Masvingo Province is primed to be the second biggest citrus producing province after Matabeleland South.

According to ZimTrade, production of citrus in the province has been on the increase in the last couple years and farmers in Chiredzi and Mwenezi have embraced this.

This also comes as China has been identified as one of the markets for fresh fruits after Zimbabwe signed a citrus phytosanitary protocol with the Asian giant allowing for the export of citrus and removing overreliance on South Africa.

Spreading into this market will further cement the existing Sino-Zim relations.

China imports the grade b and c citrus as well and this will help Zimbabwe export those grades that are deemed inferior by traditional markets.

Chiredzi district currently has established mango plantations, ZimTrade is also capacitating the farmers to help increase their export revenue.

 

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