After strong year, Zimbabwean blueberry farmers are investing US$140m to expand production

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Zimbabwean farmers are to invest US$140 million to develop 4,000 hectares of blueberries, expanding output of a crop that recorded the strongest growth in local horticulture last year.

The Horticulture Development Council (HDC), which represents farmers, has approached the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) with a plan to expand the production of blueberries, citrus, coffee, and flowers.

“To this end, HDC submitted its plans to ZIDA, which give details on the proposal to secure an additional 4,000 hectares for blueberry production estimated to cost US$140 million to develop,” ZIDA says in its quarterly report on investment activity.

For coffee production, the HDC plans to establish 1,000 hectares of coffee in the Eastern Highlands and support 1,300 small and medium-scale coffee producers to produce 2,220 tonnes per year. This will have a gross value of over US$11 million annually. Farmers are also looking to increase rose production by a further 800 hectares, hoping to take advantage of increase demand from South Africa, Russia and the Far East market.

“ZIDA is providing facilitation and assistance with land identification and acquisition, creation of special export horticulture economic zones, creation of specialised export horticultural parks for value addition and beneficiation so that the Council is able to achieve its set target of a US$1 billion horticulture industry by 2030.”

Zimbabwe expected to harvest 69% more blueberries this year, according to a crop assessment report for 2022-2023 released by the Ministry of Agriculture in April. This was the highest growth of the horticulture crops in the report, followed by pecan nuts (43%) and apples 29%.

Fruit exports were once a key export earner, but production collapsed after the land reform disrupted farm operations. Now, Zimbabwe is trying to revive the sector. In 2021, Government announced a US$30 million Horticulture Export Revolving Fund financed by part an allocation of US$960 million allocated to the country by the IMF as COVID relief.

Source – NewZwire