Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’s trade promotion and development agency, ZimTrade, says it is working with communal farmers to increase baobab production for exports to the European Union as demand for organic food increases.
The demand for organic food is said to have increased sharply with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers change their tastes.
This has created a window of opportunity for producers to seek more markets and utilize the export window, said ZimTrade Managing Director, Mr. Allan Majuru.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the International Business Conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Majuru said the advent of Covid-19 has created a huge export market for pineapples and baobab in particular.
He said baobab powder contains key nutrient components that consumers are now looking for.
“We started exporting organic pineapples to the Netherlands and this was based on our counterparts’ need to focus on healthy foods,” he said.
“Covid-19 has changed consumer tastes and then it has also led us to look at our value chains to say how we can best respond to market changes,” he said in a grounded discussion on reinvention. value chain opportunities and challenges. .
“In terms of value retention, farmers used to sell pineapples at 20 cents a kilogram, but when they were certified organic, the price jumped to 70 cents.
“As much as we export, we are changing livelihoods and retaining value in communal areas and for us that is promoting exports and changing the way of life of our farmers.”
Mr Majuru said ZimTrade is now also focusing on baobab exports after discovering that its powdered component has six times more calcium than in milk, six times more vitamin C than in oranges and more potassium than in oranges. in bananas.
“It gives you the health benefits of going into baobab production. Our communal farmers are best placed to do that,” he said.
He said that at one time the country was the continent’s leading agricultural exporter, but the focus is on reclaiming that tag.
“The predominant objective was to export to the European Union, but we focused on the Middle East. We have made the UAE our second export market destination,” Majuru said.
“Our fresh produce at Expo Dubai was well received and now we are attracting buyers from Dubai because people are skeptical whether the produce is from Zimbabwe.
“So buyers will go to also invest in production and control the supply chain.”
ZimTrade participated in the Zimbabwe-Dubai Business Forum, which enhanced bilateral trade relations between the country and the UAE.
With the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan being implemented to boost exports, it looks like local farmers will increase production, making it easier to meet buyer demands and growing demand.
There is a growing demand for organic foods among consumers as more and more people are health conscious and looking for nutrient rich and low calorie products.
Consumers are increasingly aware of foods containing synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and are turning to organic foods, which is driving the growth of the market for organic agriculture devoid of the chemicals used in crops.