ZIMBABWE has not exported sweet potatoes in the European Union (EU) since 2012, despite vast opportunities the bloc presents, latest information from ZimTrade have shown.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Information gathered from ZimTrade, the country’s export promotion body revealed the huge demand for sweet potatoes in the EU market, which increased by 177,6% to $297 million in 2016 from $107 million in 2012, presents an opportunity for Zimbabwean companies in the horticulture sector.
The EU market, says ZimTrade, accounted for 63% of global imports of sweet potatoes in 2015.
Currently, United States of America is the major exporter of sweet potatoes to Europe, accounting for 44,8% of total imports. In 2016, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa exported sweet potatoes to Europe worth $9 million, $4 million and $3 million respectively.
According to TradeMap, Zimbabwe has not recorded any export of sweet potatoes since 2012.
“The demand for sweet potatoes, particularly purple potatoes, is driven largely by the medicinal qualities of the crop,” said ZimTrade.
According to Fresh Plaza publication of April 19 2017, sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants, which are used in the prevention and treatment of more than 100 diseases.
“The versatility of the tubers also appeals to a wider market in Europe. Sweet potatoes can be roasted, pureed, steamed, baked, grilled or added to soups and stews,” it said.
“Zimbabwean farmers should consider growing sweet potatoes. The product must meet the minimum EU technical requirements to qualify for export into the EU. These requirements are classified according to product safety and technical.”