ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s horticulture sector has experienced a significant surge in fruit export earnings, witnessing a remarkable 77% increase from USD 2 million in 2022 to USD 4 million in 2023.

This upward trajectory is attributed to the sector’s strategic focus on increased value addition by local producers, as reported by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats).

The statistics reveal a compelling growth in both revenue and volume, with fruit export earnings rising from USD 2,405,885 to USD 4,257,285 and volumes increasing from 10,252,066 to 11,254,498 kilograms.

Horticultural Development Council (HDC), the country’s horticulture promotion body, emphasized the industry’s resilience amidst global and domestic market pressures.

HDC CEO, Mrs. Linda Niesen, stated, “This demonstrates the horticulture industry’s strong potential for further growth.”

Mrs. Niesen reiterated HDC’s commitment to supporting the national vision of growing the horticulture sector into a USD 1 billion industry by 2030. “Achieving this requires a joint effort by all stakeholders to grow volumes across the sector through working towards a policy environment that builds investor confidence,” she added. HDC plays a crucial role in boosting production by increasing the number of growers.

As part of its growth initiatives, HDC introduced the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model, connecting key players in the value chain to emerging growers, ensuring shared and inclusive growth.

The model centers around a hub comprising a packhouse, aggregation center, and processor, linked to spokes with farmers practicing sustainable agriculture, organizations providing extension services, capacity building/training, technology, finance, micro-industries, and compliance.

At the horticulture investment forum in Harare last year, HDC outlined the need for a USD1.2 billion investment to achieve a USD 1 billion annual horticulture sector by 2030, generating 150,000 jobs. The sector aims to grow by 30% annually to reach its ambitious target.

Breaking down the investment requirements, the fresh and processed produce section necessitates a USD 350 million investment to achieve an annual value of output of approximately USD 510 million.

The deciduous and other fruits segments include fresh or dried banana plantains, bananas, guavas, mangoes, mangosteens, apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, sloes, and various prepared or preserved fruits.

Highlighting the impact of value addition, the juice segment experienced the most substantial growth, with a remarkable 144% increase.

Juices from any single fruit or vegetable rose from USD1,267,734 in 2022 to USD3,090,123 in 2023, showcasing the effectiveness of value-added processing in boosting export revenues.

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