Zim export potential to unlock US$660m

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TINASHE MAKICHI/LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Zimbabwe has potential to unlock around US$660,4m if it expands its export market and decentralises risk, head of the export promotions body, ZimTrade has said.

Products that need to be exported include raw cane sugar, raw hides and skins of reptiles, fresh or cured, ZimTrade CEO Allan Majuru told Business Times.

“Excluding minerals, the products with greatest export potential from Zimbabwe to the world are raw cane sugar, raw hides and skins of reptiles, fresh or cured. These can unlock US$660m,” Majuru said.

He noted that raw cane sugar showed the largest absolute difference between potential and actual exports in value terms, leaving room for producers to realise additional exports worth US$124,4m.

ZimTrade has in the last few years undertaken researches to identify new opportunities which include Tete, Nampula and Niassa provinces in Mozambique, Northern Namibia, Dubai, Angola, Botswana, Kenya and Copperbelt in Zambia.

Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of Zimbabwe (ECGC) head of operations Andrew Mafukidze added that there is need for local manufacturers to look for other markets in the region.

Zimbabwe borders Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia but its largest trading partner remains South Africa.

Industry believes that there must be a deliberate strategy to expand the country’s export markets, since every time South Africa sneezes, Zimbabwe has been catching a cold.

“There is massive need for Zimbabwe manufacturers to switch their export focus to other countries rather than relying on South Africa as its biggest trading partner,”
Mafukidze said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s horticultural sector is projecting to more than double exports to US$320m by 2022 on the back of an aggressive drive to grow new markets. The development comes at a time when the country’s horticultural exports recorded significant growth in 2018 after more than US$112m worth of produce was exported, up from US$50,9m in 2017.

Horticulture exports grew from US$3,5m in 1986 to US$32m in 1991, contributing between 3,5 percent to 4,5 percent of the GDP, and were second to tobacco in foreign currency earnings. 

The exports nosedived between 2000 and 2008, before bouncing back to US$71m in 2012 and US$96m in 2015.

Agriculture experts say that the major reasons for the growth during the period included better co-ordination through the Horticultural Promotion Council, minimum regulatory impediments, market-driven production strategy, high-profile image on the international market and good infrastructure, in addition to abundant land and huge potential for irrigation water.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Kent Estates field day, last week, a ZimTrade official told Business Times that the horticulture sector is strategic to avert poverty, hunger and malnutrition in addition to generating foreign currency and creating employment opportunities down the value chain.

ZimTrade sees horticulture as a sleeping giant that could be used to turn around the economy.

“Last year’s total exports were around US$3,2bn and we are targeting horticultural exports to reach 10 percent of that amount (US$320m). This will be done through working with established companies, small scale growers in identifying and preparing for outside markets,” said ZimTrade.

ZimTrade identified low hanging fruits for the sector as passion fruit, fine beans, peas (mange tout and sugar snap, all berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries), baby vegetables such as carrots, baby corn, baby marrow, courgettes, chillies namely birds eye, and serenade.