Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Horticulture exports to EU increase

Horticulture exports to EU increase

 

By Tabitha Mutenga, Features and Supplements Editor

 

ZIMBABWE’S exports to the European Union (EU) increased to over US$54 million last year, from US$21,3 million in 2014.

Zimbabwe’s major export destinations in the EU were United Kingdom, Netherlands, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany.
Netherlands was Zimbabwe’s largest export market importing over US$35 million worth of horticultural products.
Statistics from ZimTrade indicate that between January and February 2016, the country exported horticultural products worth US$2,2 million.
Addressing guests at the launch of the Zimbabwe Standards Association’s Chromatography Trace Elements Laboratory last week, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Phillippe Van Damme, said the laboratory would contribute immensely towards the export of horticultural produce into the EU, which had increased to over 50 million euros.
“The laboratory is a welcome development to the Zimbabwe quality and standards landscape. It can help Zimbabwe to export a wider variety of products and enhance acceptability of these products locally, regionally and internationally,” Van Damme said.
In order to promote further exports into Netherlands, Zimbabwe and a Netherlands organisation, PUM, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support agriculture and revive the horticultural sector in Zimbabwe and help revive Zimbabwe’s exports to the European market which in the last five years have remained subdued.
The MoU targeted the horticultural sector after realising that it had quick returns.
Exports of horticultural products hit their peak in 1999/2000, earning the country US$143 million.
“This laboratory will, I hope, notably benefit the horticulture sector in Zimbabwe, which is an important sector because of its significant contribution to exports.
“The sector, which is predominantly composed of small to medium enterprises, will be able to meet the requirements of food safety and quality,” Van Damme said.
A Dutch expert in horticulture from PUM, Piet Hein De Wit, was in the country last week conducting a scoping exercise for small-scale horticultural farmers and visited banana, paprika and avocado producers in the Eastern Highlands so that they benefit from PUM’s intervention programme.
Local horticultural produce for the export market includes temperate fruits (apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, nectarine and grape), tropical fruits and vegetables (baby corn, butternut, citrus, chilli, gem squash, kiwi, lychee, mango, passion fruit, pineapple and tamarillo), out of season fruit and vegetables (asparagus, baby carrots, fine beans, cherry tomatoes, courgettes, mange tout peas, melon, strawberries and sweet corn), as well as flowers.
The launch of the US$3 million Chromatography Trace Elements Laboratory by SAZ will benefit the country’s food, feed, agro and pharmaceuticals sectors by providing world class conformity assessment facilities through the testing of various products.
SAZ director general, Eve Gadzikwa, said the establishment of the laboratory would allow farmers, especially horticultural producers, to meet international phyto-sanitary standards.
“This facility is in response to a need and will allow our clients to be able to test trace elements like herbicides, pesticides and aflatoxins in foods locally and for the purpose of obtaining compliance to stringent technical requirements specified by export markets and regulators,” Gadzikwa said.
The intended role of the laboratory is to facilitate trade into the EU and other markets and to promote market access by Zimbabwean organisations.
Zimbabwe was once one of the largest exporters of a wide range of horticultural products in Africa, supplying overseas markets including Europe and the Middle East.
The country also became a valuable exporter of cut flowers, and by 2001, it was ranked as the second largest in Africa, behind Kenya and was the fifth biggest exporter to the EU.
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