BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA Exorbitant permit fees charged by government to floriculture exporters are draining fortunes out of farmers annually, as markets shift to cheaper sources, according ZimTrade, the country’s foreign trade promotion agency.
Floriculture involves the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens.
In a development that brought into question the effectiveness of Zimbabwe’s campaign to reduce business costs, ZimTrade revealed that floriculture export permits were 35,7 times more expensive in some cases for Zimbabwe, compared to the region.
High production costs have a bearing on the prices that farmers charge for exports.
Across all exports, Zimbabwe is rated among the most expensive in the region, a development that has pushed potential markets to alternative producers.
In the case of floriculture, global markets are now trooping to Guatemala, Kenya and Tanzania, according to ZimTrade chief executive officer (CEO), Allan Majuru, who revealed that Zimbabwe was even demanding permits for non-strategic crops.
These include bananas, peas, sugar beans, butter, cheese, citrus fruit, coffee, eggs, blueberries, avocado, potatoes, poultry and poultry products and tea.
He said Zimbabwean exporters were paying up to US$1 000 to be granted rights to export flowers.
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In contrast, the South Africa government charges US$28 for the same permit.
“Agricultural products require export permits including non-strategic products,” Majuru, who addressed the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development chaired by Justice Mayor Wadyajena on Monday, said.
“The costs of and time it takes to process permits reduce the export competitiveness of producers.”
Even when permits are secured, red tape has been another big challenge in Zimbabwe.
The ZimTrade CEO gave the example of Cites permit fees for floriculture exporters, which he blamed for the high costs of local exports.
A Cites permit is issued to companies that extract wild plants before propagating them.
“The Cites permit was increased from US$250 to US$1 000,” Majuru told legislators.
“Zimbabwe’s competition is Kenya, Tanzania and Guatemala and their Cites permit costs are way less than Zimbabwe’s.
This has resulted in loss of business to these countries.
South Africa charges R400 which translates to US$28 or a once-off yearly payment of R8 000 (US$530).
SI 45 of 2014 states that apermit to propagate and sell specially protected plants costs US$250 (small scale) and US$1 000 (large scale).
Statutory Instrument 108 of 2019 states that a permit for a company that propagate and sell specially protected plants costs US$1 000 and there is no longer a differentiation between small or large scale.
There is a need to investigate these issues in consultation with the industry,” Majuru said.
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