HARARE, April 13 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s horticulture exports have fallen to $23,5 million during the 2014/2015 period, down from a peak of $143 million reached during the 1999/2000 season, data released by the country’s export trade promotion body ZimTrade on Wednesday showed.
In 2000, President Robert Mugabe’s government seized land from about 4,000 white farmers for redistribution to thousands of black farmers, a programme Mugabe says was meant to address colonial imbalances butone which analysts blame for the collapse of the agriculture sector.
“Exports reached a peak of $143 million in 1999/2000,” ZimTrade chairman, Lance Jena told a signing ceremony of a memorandum of association with PUM, a Netherlands based organisation that specialises in technical assistance to the horticultural sector.
“However, this contribution has since declined to $23,5 million in 2014/2015. The (PUM) intervention will assist to reposition the Zimbabwe horticulture sector, in particular small to medium scale farmers to become key drivers in the growth of exports. This will be achieve through knowledge transfer in planting, production, harvesting, post harvest management, processing as well as the contribution of horticulture (to gross domestic product),” he added.
Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe, Gera Sneller, said at the ceremony that when she presented her credentials to President Robert Mugabe a few years back, the head of State told her that his wish was to see the country’s horticultural sector bounce back to 1990s levels.
The bulk of the country’s horticultural exports were shipped to the Netherlands.
“The president told me that he wanted Zimbabwean flowers back at the auction (in the Netherlands),” Sneller said.
“And as an embassy, we have been working on this. The PUM programme is exactly what is needed in Zimbabwe. Because of political situations, Zimbabwe has been isolated from international developments,” said Sneller.
She added that during the period, there had been several developments on the international horticultural markets, which meant the country could have lagged behind market dynamics.
“Experts from the Netherlands will bring these new developments in horticulture. We also have other sectors where the Netherlands is doing well, where Zimbabwe can benefit. We are trying to create a win-win situation where Zimbabwean companies and companies from the Netherlands can benefit,” she said.