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Zimbabwe Horticulture Export Earnings
Economy Horticulture

Zimbabwe’s Horticulture Sector: Stagnant Despite Increased Prices

Zimbabwe’s horticulture export earnings remained unchanged at $71 million from Jan-Nov 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, despite a decrease in products sold and logistics issues such as rising costs for transporting to the EU and the depreciation of the pound and euro against the US dollar. However, the berries sector contributed greatly to 2022’s gross earnings, with a 73% surge in net earnings, a 55% increase in export volume, and a 12% increase in average price. The Zimbabwe government introduced a $30m horticulture export revolving fund last year to spur growth and fulfill the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan.

Horticulture export earnings in Zimbabwe remained unchanged at $71 million from January to November 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, despite a decrease in the number of horticulture products sold. The average price for horticultural products also increased from $0.56 per kilogram in 2021 to $0.59 per kilogram in 2022. The chairman of the Horticulture Development Council (HDC), Mr. Stanley Heri, attributed this lack of growth to issues in the logistics sector, such as rising costs for transporting products to the European Union and the depreciation of the pound and euro against the US dollar. The cost of shipping products to the EU has risen from $2.14 per kilogram to roughly $3 per kilogram. The aviation sector cites high fuel costs as the main reason for this. The depreciation of the pound and euro against the dollar is also working against Zimbabwe, as they receive their earnings in pounds or euros but the costs of production and the logistics value chain are denominated by the US dollar.

Despite this, the berries sector contributed immensely to 2022’s gross earnings after netting $12,204,553 against $7,051,955 from the previous year, representing a 73% surge. The volume of exports under the berries umbrella (cranberry, mulberry, blueberry, and so on) rose from 3,269,060 kilograms in 2021 to 5,067,326 kilograms last year, marking a 55% increase. The average price for berries in 2021 was $2.41 per kilogram against the previous year’s $2.16, a 12% increase. The Vice Chairman of the Zimbabwe Berry Growers Association, Mr. Stuart Torr, maintained that blueberry production was the primary cause for the increased production within the berries sector. New blueberry plantings of 2021 and orchards that are getting older had contributed to the increased production, as yields naturally rise as the trees mature. However, he added that the growth may slow in the future due to competition and barriers to expansion. Among the factors that might slow down blueberry expansion are the 75% foreign currency account retention, the unavailability of patient capital for short-term borrowing, and increased production costs.

The Government of Zimbabwe introduced a $30 million horticulture export revolving fund last year to spur horticulture export growth and to fulfill the dictates of the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan (HRGP). In addition to other incentives such as suspension of duty on agriculture capital equipment, anchor farmer incentive, value-added tax zero rating of farm inputs, and foreign currency account retention on incremental export receipts of 100%. The Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan aims to boost the output of essential commodities such as blueberries, fresh produce, citrus, macadamia, coffee, and high-value emerging crops such as industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis.

Image provided by Jhune Bleu

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