Area put under horticultural products rose 5% to 118 899 hectares (ha) during the 2022/20223 summer cropping season from 113 660ha planted during the prior comparative period, as the government pushes to revive the sector, Business Times can report.
At its peak in the 1999 agriculture season, horticulture export receipts stood at US$130m.
But, it came down to between US$50m and US$70m between 2020 and 2022.
Now, the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister, Anxious Masuka, told Business Times the government was moving towards reviving the horticulture sector.
“There is a general increase in area planted for most horticultural crops during the 2022/2023 agricultural season as the subsector continues to be on the rebound trajectory and return to its former glory. As we grow other subsectors, horticulture will be among the top priority areas,” he said.
In the first Crop, Livestock, and Fisheries Assessment Report, the area under blueberry increased by 54% to 506 ha in the 2022/2023 season from 328 ha in the 2021/2022 season.
Sugarcane recorded a 7% increase in area planted to 79 722 ha in the current season from 74 684 ha in the 2021/2022 season while the area under Irish potato increased by 3% to 23 982 ha in the current agricultural season from 23 241 ha during the previous one.
.The area under the tea area decreased by 5% to 5 662 ha in the 2021/2022 season from 5 951 ha in the 2022/2023 season.
The number of village nutrition gardens currently stands at 7 091, covering an area of 6 277.8 ha, with 80% of the gardens being functional, with an area of 5 022 ha currently under production.
The development comes as Zimbabwe is targeting an increase in high-value horticultural products for export markets to create more jobs and continuing to diversify its agricultural production base and increased production for local markets to give consumers a wider range of produce.
According to ZimTrade, horticulture exports during the 2021/2022 season grew by 6.8% to US$64.6m from US$59,5m recorded in the 2020-2021 season.
This growth was driven by macadamia nuts exports which contributed US$13.8m, citrus at US$10,9m, vegetables at US$4.2m, and flowers at US$3.2m.
Newer crops of blueberries increased sharply to 5 000 tonnes in the last season and pecan nuts production increased significantly by 348% from 85.3 tonnes in 2020-2021 to 374 tonnes in 2021-2022.
Masuka said increasing volumes boost income and increasing the range of products exported gives the sector resilience to shocks in the commodities markets, climate change, and other economic factors.
According to experts, horticulture can grow fast since Zimbabwe is well placed geographically and climatically to produce fresh and pure produce on good soils, pristine water, and a variety of climatic conditions.
Under the Presidential Rural Horticulture Transformation Plan, 2,3m households will benefit from fruit production and village nutrition gardens this year.