THE Government has pledged to scrap horticulture export permits as part of measures to boost production and incentivise exporters. Horticulture used to be a major sub-sector in the Zimbabwean economy with quick export returns of about $143 million at its peak in 1999/2000. However, the country has realised only about $54m from exports of horticultural produce in 2015 alone, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said.
While last year’s figure was up from $49 million recorded in 2014, the earnings are minute when compared to $1.2 billion annual export earnings for Kenya, for instance.
“In order to further promote horticultural production and exports, Government is working with identified partners, including those from Europe and China in supporting small-scale farmers,” said Minister Chinamasa while presenting his mid-term fiscal policy review statement last Thursday.
“Further support will include incentives targeting crops such as flowers, fruits, coffee, tea and other crops that have quick turn-around. “Export restrictions in the form of permits will be removed as part of the ease of doing business.”
As part of measures to improve agriculture productivity, the minister said concerted efforts would be directed towards targeted support for research, training and extension services, largely through capacitating extension, training and research institutions.
Zimbabwe is still a long way off from making significant strides into the EU market, whose total 2015 imports from around the world amounted to a staggering $59,39 billion.
By comparison Zimbabwe’s horticultural exports to the EU last year amounted to a mere 0,10 percent of the regional bloc’s overall horticultural imports market. Zimbabwe’s significant markets for horticultural products in the EU in 2015 were the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany.
Other key markets include France, Portugal and Spain. Survey statistics indicate that Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain have generally maintained the trend of being the top takers of Zimbabwe’s horticultural products between 2012 and 2015.
According to the Horticultural Promotion Council of Zimbabwe (HPCZ), the main export crops include temperate fruits (apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, nectarine and grape); tropical fruits and vegetables (baby corn, butternut, citrus, chilli, gem squash, kiwi, lychee, mango, passion fruit, pineapple and tamarillo); out of season fruit and vegetables (asparagus, baby carrots, fine beans, cherry tomatoes, courgettes, mange tout peas, melon, strawberries and sweet corn), and flowers (protea, roses, chrysanthemum, liatris, aster, chelone, euphorbia, trachelium, ammi majus, statice and delphinium). — @ProsperNdlovu