Cyclone Idai victims in Zimbabwe defy odds. . . exporting to Asia, Europe

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CITRUS fruits and avocados from Chimanimani and Chipinge are attracting international buyers from Europe and Asia as victims of Cyclone Idai are working hard to restore their livelihoods, The Manica Post has established.

President Mnangagwa will today (Friday) tour some of the leading citrus and avocado producers in Chipinge, which has now become an export hub.

Manicaland has already identified citrus farming as one of the low hanging fruits it can leverage on in its quest to contribute towards the country’s Vision 2030.

The country is working towards attaining an upper-middle income economy in the next decade, with increased investments and decent broad-based empowerment.

In an interview with The Manica Post, the country’s international trade promotion board, ZimTrade’s communications manager Mr Danai Majaha said around 80 percent of the avocados consumed worldwide are a variety called Hass, which is the main variety grown for exports in Chipinge and Chimanimani.

“In recent years, avocados have become one of the top super-foods and is also one of the top imported fruits around the world.

“Buyers from Hong-Kong have expressed interest in buying locally produced avocados for distribution in Asia,” said Mr Majaha.

“For organic pineapples, we are targeting the European market. As we build our capacity, we will also be targeting the Japanese and other Asian markets.

“For citrus fruits, which have seen a boom in the recent months, we are targeting the Chinese market. Zimbabwe is in the process of developing a citrus protocol with China.

“This is expected to ease and improve exports to the Asian country. With a consumption population of over 1,4 billion, the Chinese market alone has the capacity to consume all of Zimbabwe’s produce, and therefore it’s a huge market that we should fully make us of,” said Mr Majaha.

He went on to highlight that there are also markets for local produce in Namibia and Botswana.

“We are working on improving the capacity of local farmers so that they produce more. We are also assisting exporters to take part in trade fairs and exhibitions in these countries once Covid-19 is contained. This is where they will meet and interact with potential buyers.

“We are working with macadamia, avocado, chilli, pepper and sweet potato farmers in Manicaland.

“Those in Nyanga are earmarked for flower production,” he said.

Mr Majaha said one of ZimTrade’s success stories is at the Ndiyadzo Organic Pineapple Project in Chipinge, where they are working with 22 farmers.

“We have been capacitating the farmers to improve their organic farming skills so that they can attain organic certification for their produce and start exporting.

“The certification of the produce was supposed to have been done in May 2019. However, due to Cyclone Idai, which affected the Ndiyadzo area, the project had to be put on hold as the farmers had lost their crops, homes and documentation.

“Although the cyclone brought challenges, it is encouraging to note that the farmers have resumed the project, with the assistance of ZimTrade and its partners. We have put in place export development programmes to capacitate farmers in the areas that were affected by Cyclone Idai,” he said.

“We are hoping that the certification will be in place by early next year. Once this is in place, farmers will have easy access to international markets and they will earn an average of 30 percent more on each product.

“In conjunction with Manicaland’s provincial leadership, we are developing export development clusters. Through these clusters, activities will be tailor-made to ensure that farmers and businesses will contribute meaningfully to national exports,” said Mr Majaha. – Manica Post