Among the many Zimbabwean export products, sweet potatoes have dominated over the past few years, offering opportunities for Zimbabwean farmers to participate in regional and international markets.
The global market for sweet potatoes has been rapidly expanding, increasing by over 130 percent in some markets over the last five years. The European Union (EU) tops the list of growing markets.
Certainly, sweet potatoes have been growing in popularity among consumers, presenting viable export opportunities for local growers to tap into and grow the country’s exports. According to Trade Map, the global market value of internationally traded sweet potatoes in 2019 was about US$706 million, representing an average annual growth of 15 percent between 2015 and 2019.
During the same period, the import volumes of sweet potatoes increased from 450 tons in 2015 to 844 tons in 2019. Two of the largest importers of sweet potatoes — the Netherlands (159 tonnes) and United Kingdom (137 tonnes) — are already leading trading partners for Zimbabwe’s horticultural produce.
By focusing on Netherlands, local farmers can tap into established routes created by the country into Europe. According to Netherlands’ Centre for Promotion of Imports (CBI) from developing countries, a large quantity of the sweet potatoes entering mainland Europe are traded through the Netherlands. From here, sweet potatoes are distributed to countries such as Germany, France, Sweden, Finland as well as the United Kingdom.