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Zim, Bots moot export corridor

Modalities were already in place for local farmers to export their produce to Botswana.

THE Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is negotiating with its Botswana counterpart to establish an export corridor that will see local horticultural players exporting their products to the neighbouring country.

Speaking after meeting a Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) delegation in Harare last week, AMA chief executive officer Clever Isaya said modalities were already in place for local farmers to export their produce to Botswana.

“We should take advantage of the fact that demand for local horticultural products is high in Botswana. Our objective is to grow trade between Botswana and Zimbabwe, and by engaging BAMB we have the right partner to achieve that,” he said.

“I’m also very excited about this opportunity in that it will create an off-take market for the 35 000 village gardens under the Presidential Rural Development Programme.”

Isaya said modalities had been put in place for the signing of a memorandum of understanding with BAMB to allow the two authorities to work together and deepen co-operation.

Head of the Botswana delegation only identified as T Baitshoki said even though local horticultural products, especially fruits and vegetables, were already in Botswana, there was room for expansion.

“I have no doubt that Zimbabwe has the capacity to supply the Botswana market.  What is now required is for Zimbabwean farmers to take advantage of existing bilateral relations between the two countries to cement trade relations,” Baitshoki said.

“We should avoid a situation where produce from Zimbabwe comes to Botswana via South Africa. This is why we are engaging AMA so that we create a direct link.”

The BAMB delegation also wanted to take notes on cotton production. The country wants to resume growing cotton having stopped growing the white gold several years ago. Zimbabwe is one of the top cotton production countries in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region. Its cotton has enjoyed a reputation of being among the best in the world.

BAMB was established by an Act of Parliament and is mandated to provide a market for locally grown scheduled crops such as cereals, pulses or beans and oil seeds, and ensure adequate supplies for sale at affordable prices.

The government has classified horticulture as a low-hanging fruit which is capable of playing an important role in the turning around of Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes in terms of employment creation and foreign currency generation.

Last year, the Finance and Economic Development ministry launched the US$30 million horticultural export revolving fund to capacitate local horticultural players targeting the export market.

Zimbabwe’s exports to Botswana stood at US$36,08 million in 2021, according to the United Nations Common Format for Transient Data Exchange for Power Systems database on international trade.

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