Hor­ti­cul­ture up-take in­creases in Man­i­ca­land

The Manica Post - - Business/ Farming - Emmah Chinya­mu­tan­gira Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent

FARM­ERS in Man­i­ca­land have com­mit­ted an av­er­age of 7 684 hectares of land to­wards pro­duc­tion of hor­ti­cul­tural crops dur­ing the 2018/2019 sea­son.

This devel­op­ment will go a long way in gen­er­at­ing for­eign cur­rency through ex­ports.

Hor­ti­cul­ture spe­cial­ist with Agri­tex Mr Dou­glas Nzarayebani said an in­crease in pro­duc­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­duce would, in the long term, re­vive ex­ports and as­sist the coun­try to gen­er­ate the much needed for­eign cur­rency, cre­ate em­ploy­ment, im­prove food se­cu­rity and re­duce poverty.

“Farm­ers are do­ing their best to save the econ­omy from short­ages of for­eign cur­rency by ex­port­ing hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duce and re­duc­ing im­por­ta­tion of fruit juices into the coun­try,” he said.

“We hope the projects will also play an im­por­tant role in boost­ing eco­nomic growth and re­cov­ery in the near fu­ture,” said Mr Nzarayebani.He said most farm­ers in Chipinge and Mu­tasa dis­tricts, who have the tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise in hor­ti­cul­ture, have over the past few years been mainly in­volved pro­duc­tion of cash fruit crops for ex­port mar­kets.

“Farm­ers have planted 2 237ha of ba­nanas and ex­pect­ing to pro­duce 37 110 tonnes. They have also planted 916ha of av­o­ca­dos out of which we ex­pect to pro­duce 45 800 tonnes. We also planted 192ha of ap­ples that will give us 3 840 tonnes. Ma­cadamia nuts cov­ers 3 119ha and we ex­pect to pro­duce 9 357 tonnes while pineap­ples ac­count for 103ha out of which we ex­pect to pro­duce 1 545 tonnes,” he said.

“We want to pro­duce high qual­ity prod­ucts that will com­pete at favourable global mar­kets and pen­e­trate new mar­kets,” he said.

Mr Nzarayebani re­vealed that Govern­ment was mov­ing to­wards re­sus­ci­ta­tion hor­ti­cul­ture mar­kets in var­i­ous Euro­pean coun­tries.

The Govern­ment was also fa­cil­i­tat­ing ed­u­cat­ing farm­ers on mar­ket re­quire­ments and how to main­tain their pro­duce to ob­tain high qual­ity that at­tracts for­eign buy­ers.

“Some farm­ers are not aware of the mar­ket re­quire­ments and there is need to ed­u­cate them through ex­ten­sion ser­vices,” he added.

The Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe (RBZ) has set aside $20 mil­lion for the revival of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try, which de­spite its huge po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate for­eign cur­rency for the na­tion, has largely been in a mori­bund state.

RBZ Gov­er­nor Dr John Man­gudya is on record say­ing hor­ti­cul­ture should be re­ju­ve­nated to its orig­i­nal sta­tus when it was the sec­ond largest for­eign cur­rency earner af­ter to­bacco, con­tribut­ing an av­er­age four per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

At its peak in 1999, hor­ti­cul­ture earned the coun­try an­nual rev­enue of US$142m, with Zim­babwe be­ing en­vied as the third coun­try af­ter the Nether­lands and Is­rael in the flower pro­duc­tion in­dus­try.

Hor­ti­cul­ture is a spe­cialised type of farm­ing that favours a some­what wet cli­mate, good soils, fairly low tem­per­a­tures and a con­sis­tent wa­ter sup­ply through­out the year.

The pro­duc­tion of hor­ti­cul­tural crops tends there­fore to be con­cen­trated in Nat­u­ral Re­gions One, Two and Three, which re­ceive in ex­cess of 500mm of rain­fall per year.

Zim­babwe used to ex­port about 85 per­cent of its flow­ers to the Nether­lands while about 90 per­cent of the to­tal fresh veg­eta­bles landed in Britain, South Africa, Zam­bia and Namibia and 80 per­cent of fruits were con­sumed by Bri­tish and South African mar­kets.

Roses pro­duced in Ban­ket, Trelawney, Con­ces­sion, Glendale, Bin­dura, Harare, Goromonzi and Kwekwe con­sti­tuted 70 per­cent of cut-flower ex­ports from Zim­babwe. Other flow­ers grown and ex­ported in­clude proteas, asters and chrysan­the­mums.

An­nual va­ri­eties pro­duced in large vol­umes in­clude ammi ma­jus and bu­plearum. Smaller vol­umes of del­phinium, carthamus, cras­pe­dia, euphor­bia, cal­lis­te­phus and molu­cella were also pro­duced.

Cur­rently, Zim­babwe is im­port­ing fruits like ap­ples, pears, plum, peach apri­cots, nec­tarine and grape from South Africa.

Hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duc­tion plum­meted from 142 000 tonnes in 1999 to 39 175 tonnes in 2010.

The 2012 Zim­trade Re­port on hor­ti­cul­ture cited chal­lenges blight­ing the sec­tor as power out­ages which grossly af­fect fresh pro­duce ex­ports be­cause they re­quire cer­tain tem­per­a­tures to be main­tained and also af­fect ir­ri­ga­tion of the crops.

Labour short­ages, com­pounded by low wages af­fected pro­duc­tion be­cause most farm work­ers opted for gold and di­a­mond pan­ning as a source of liveli­hood.

The highly tech­ni­cal and labour in­ten­sive en­ter­prise re­quires very high start up costs es­pe­cially for new farm­ers, in­fra­struc­ture like green­houses, cold rooms and work­ing cap­i­tal, of which many farm­ers can­not af­ford as the whole agri­cul­tural in­dus­try re­quires mas­sive in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture and sup­port from the bank­ing sec­tor.

Di­lap­i­dated ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture and strin­gent phyto-san­i­tary de­mands or mea­sures on qual­ity, food safety and hy­giene es­pe­cially from Europe have also led to the col­lapse of the sec­tor.

Ac­cess to fi­nance has been the big­gest bot­tle-neck in the sec­tor mainly be­cause of the ab­sence of a land mar­ket which pre­vents fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions from grant­ing loans to farm­ers be­cause there is lit­tle or no col­lat­eral to sup­port loans.

Also the ab­sence of se­cu­rity of ten­ure has seen a num­ber of farm­ers un­will­ing to un­der­take any medium to long term in­vest­ments on farms, as a re­sult, a num­ber of green houses are ly­ing and nei­ther the govern­ment nor the banks are com­ing up with strate­gies to as­sist farm­ers.

The ex­pan­sion of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on var­i­ous other in­dus­tries, both do­mes­tic and for­eign.

These in­clude ser­vice providers such as mar­ket­ing, ex­port­ing, freight, con­sul­tancy, for­ward­ing, fi­nan­cial and in­put sup­pli­ers like agro-chem­i­cal, green­houses, pack­ag­ing, cov­er­ings, fans, uni­forms, ir­ri­ga­tion, re­frig­er­ated trucks, tim­ber and elec­tri­cal instruments.

Un­for­tu­nately, the farm­ers tasked with the ex­pan­sion of the sec­tor to­day have nei­ther the ca­pac­ity nor the know-how to run the projects given to them.

Pri­mar­ily, they need govern­ment as­sis­tance in terms of an en­abling agri­cul­tural pol­icy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.