ZIMBABWE – The European bloc has become hungrier for African fruits, especially from Zimbabwe, as it battles a short supply of fresh produce due to unfavorable climatic conditions.

In his address during the launch of the ‘Team Europe Initiative on Greener and Climate-Smart Agriculture,’ the EU delegation led by EU Ambassador Jobst von Kirchamann said there was a growing demand for fresh produce in Europe that Zimbabwean farmers can meet.

“We do want to see more fresh produce exports to the EU as farmers shift towards the market and value-driven agriculture production.”

“We have been working with farmers in Chipinge district by facilitating organic produce certification and export capacity building,” said Ambassador von Kirchamann.

The Team Europe Initiative will also support young people and farmers through agri-business support services.

The initiative encompasses all EU member states and Switzerland, with a contribution of over €207 million (US$220m) will be made in support of the Government’s strategy for a more productive, resilient, and greener agricultural sector.

As part of the initiative’s agreement, the re-engagement between the partners will occur every three months to ensure the initiative remains fully aligned with the National Development Strategy.

The re-engagement aims to allow all players to exchange and mutually understand their visions and priorities.

According to Lucentlands Media, during the past two years, Zimbabwe’s horticultural sector has been experiencing a remarkable upswing, with a continued increase in fresh produce export volumes.

This includes an increase in high-value horticultural exports driven by the growth in the production and exports of macadamia nuts, avocados, blueberries, citrus, vegetables, and pecan nuts.

The consolidation of the horticultural sector has supported the growth through the establishment of the Horticultural Development Council (HDC).

The country’s horticultural sector established the HDC in January 2020, as the organization to represent and promote export horticultural producers in Zimbabwe.

During the same period, the Zimbabwean government prioritized the increased production of high-value horticultural products for export markets to create more jobs and earn foreign capital.

Recently, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. John Basera, said they were developing and revitalizing horticulture-related infrastructure including Agro-processing to establish sustainable and effective funding mechanisms and to attract foreign investment in horticulture production.

The government is working to safeguard that a sustainable business environment is created through legislative amendments so farmers can sell and benefit from their produce.

Zimbabwe has recently launched a US$30 million Horticulture Export Revolving Fund (HERF) to revive the sector after getting funding support through the Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund last year.

Among the other plans, the fund is intended to boost production and in tackling short to long-term financing challenges.

The country is also stepping up efforts to explore new markets while reclaiming traditional ones. Following the signing of the protocol with China in December 2021, indications are that in the first quarter of 2023, they can sell some fruits which have undergone cold treatment in China.

Zimbabwe is looking to diversify horticultural export markets in Asia, the Middle East, and the Far East, as well as exploring regional opportunities available through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

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