Zimbabwe asks Netherlands to save horticulture
President Robert Mugabe requested the intervention of the Netherlands government in 2013 to help rebuild the country's ailing horticulture industry after it slipped into the doldrums as exports tumbled, a diplomat said last week.
From an annual revenue of US$143 million in 1999, statistics indicate that the country earned a paltry US$40 million through horticultural exports in 2013.
And last week, Zimbabwe's export trade promotion body, ZimTrade, said the value of horticultural exports declined to US$23,5 million in 2015.
At its peak, the sector was the second largest foreign currency earner after tobacco, contributing an average four percent to gross domestic product.
The country exported about 90 percent of total fresh vegetables to Britain, South Africa, Zambia and Namibia and 80 percent of fruits were consumed by British and South African markets.
The country's horticultural sector started experiencing problems from 2000, when government implemented agrarian reforms to increase the number of black Zimbabweans with access to fertile and productive farmlands.
The majority of the productive land had been occupied by a few white commercial farmers for about a century.
But Zimbabwe's agrarian reforms were poorly planned.
There was no funding to help peasant farmers move from subsistence farming to large scale commercial farming.
As a result, the country has experienced shortages of farm produce for many years, including the staple maize.
Against this background, President Mugabe asked the Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe, Gera Sneller, to find ways of rebuilding the industry, when she presented her credentials to him in 2013, she revealed last week.
Read more at allAfrica.com
Publication date: 4/27/2016
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