ZIMBABWE – The Horticultural Development Council (HDC) has confirmed that Zimbabwe is now witnessing a promising recovery in the sector following increased investments and strategic initiatives towards a target of USD 1 billion in exports by 2030.
The sector faced severe setbacks when former President Robert Mugabe spearheaded the seizure of white-owned farms, disrupting the agricultural backbone of the nation.
This led to a decline in horticultural exports, which had previously peaked at USD 140 million in 1999. The effect triggered food shortages and an economic crisis, including a 500 billion percent hyperinflation in 2008.
However, recent figures indicate a promising turnaround, with Zimbabwe presently earning USD 120 million annually from horticultural exports encompassing citrus, flowers, tea, avocados, blueberries, and macadamia nuts.
Linda Nielsen, Vice President of HDC, emphasized the necessity of tenfold growth to attain the ambitious goal set for 2030, advocating for expansive measures within the sector.
“We have to grow 10 times to reach this goal and obviously it calls for rapid expansion in the sector,” Nielsen stated at the conference in Harare.
Achieving such exponential growth necessitates a substantial investment estimated at USD 1.2 billion, a formidable challenge amid an inconsistent policy landscape, high borrowing costs, logistical hurdles, and persistent land tenure concerns plaguing the sector.
Nevertheless, targeted investments in high-demand products like blueberries and macadamia nuts are not only propelling their growth but also revitalizing traditional produce such as citrus, tea, and flowers.
“We see a revival of up to 10,000 hectares (of citrus plantations) by 2030. Most of it was lost to land reform,” Citrus Growers Association President Pete Bernstein said at the conference.
External support from entities like the European Union and its technical assistance via the European Investment Bank further underlines the sector’s potential.
HDC’s investment forum: A critical platform
The HDC’s recent investment forum, held under the theme “Opportunities in the field, in policy, and all the way to the bank,” served as an excellent opportunity for the industry’s growth.
Aligned with Zimbabwe’s Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan, this forum aimed to transform agriculture into a USD 13.25 billion sector by 2025.
Noteworthy dignitaries including Minister Anxious Masuka and Professor Mthuli Ncube participated, signaling the government’s commitment to bolstering the horticultural landscape.
The event attracted stakeholders from various corners, fostering discussions on industry trends, challenges, and avenues for investor engagement.
Linda Nielsen, HDC’s Chief Executive Officer, emphasized the pivotal role of the forum in addressing pressing issues hindering the sector’s full potential.
This is a major event on Zimbabwe’s agriculture calendar,” she said. “The investment Forum brings together our growers, experts from various fields of horticulture, investors, and policymakers.”
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