Horticulture set to anchor economic revival

ZIMBABWE’s economic revival hinges on many sectors and horticulture is one of them, an expert has said.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Horticulture expert Archibald Gumiro, who runs a consultancy firm Oaklands, which is seeking to create markets in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, last week said the $100 million reported to have been set aside for this sector is not accessible to would-be farmers.

“Government must put money into horticulture and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in particular, should make funds available. Our government also needs to relax the stringent measures in order to allow the market to produce to its potential. There is a big horticulture market, but government must help,” Gumiro said.

He said Zimbabwe’s horticulture sector could, in the next few years, bring in over $1,5 billion in foreign currency.

“We are naturally an agro-based economy and we must go back to basics. We are sitting on a giant and our government needs to act quickly in this regard.

“There is a dearth of expertise in terms of extension services to make sure the product that we will produce is good for the export market. Our people do not know that there is a ready market in England, and Oakland Consultancy has created great links for this. We need to begin to produce in order to satisfy the market,” Gumiro said.

At its prime, Kondozi Estates in Manicaland supplied the European market with horticulture products before it was decimated by the haphazard land redistribution programme and greedy political big-wigs at the turn of the century.

Gumiro added: “There are people holding 2 000 hectares, but producing nothing. Horticulture can create cash enough to satisfy local demand for foreign currency. If horticulture begins to work, companies in plastic manufacturing will be resuscitated; engineering, water, pulp-and-paper, packaging and greenhouse supplying industries as well as air-freight will be revived.”

There are also reports that government is partnering a private player to resuscitate horticulture, once one of Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earners.

New horticulture products could also be introduced as foreign investors eye Zimbabwe’s centrality in the region and its favourable climate.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is working on an economic revival plan with the potential to translate Zimbabwe into a middle income country within the next 12 years. At the weekend, Mnangagwa said there would be no policy inconsistencies regarding agriculture.

“Increasingly, our agriculture is being funded by the private sector. This is the way to go. I encourage the private sector to take long-term funding positions in the full knowledge that there will be no policy reversals,” he said.

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