ZIMBABWE should take advantage of the growing global demand for organic crops to boost production of horticulture crops that are free from synthetic materials such as herbicides and enhance rural incomes, ZimTrade chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru, has said.
With consumers becoming more concerned about their health, demand for organic foods including fruits and vegetables has risen steadily in the past 10 years.
“There is a growing demand for organic foods among consumers as more people are becoming health conscious and looking for products that are high in nutrients and low in calories,” he said.
“Consumers are also becoming more aware of foods containing synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and are switching to organic foods, which is driving the market growth of organic farming that is devoid of the chemicals used in crops.
“By focusing on organic produce, there is potential for the horticulture sector to increase its contribution to national exports, riding on improved production by small-holder farmers and rural communities,” added Mr Majuru.
To boost production and exports of horticulture, he said ZimTrade was working on cluster development in various provinces to provide growth opportunities to small-holder farmers.
For example, as part of the programme to integrate farmers into export business, ZimTrade has facilitated for rural farmers in Ndiyadzo, a village situated north-east of Chipinge to attain an Ecocert Organic Standard, which will unlock market access to Europe.
“This attainment of the organic certification is a critical milestone in reaching the lucrative organic fruit market, especially in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and other emerging markets such as United Arab Emirates,” said Mr Majuru.