Germany has expressed interest in importing 15 horticultural crops from Zimbabwe, a development likely to earn the country millions of dollars in foreign currency, as the demand for non-Genetically Modified crops and Biotech free cotton on the international market increases.
Zimbabwe is known for producing uncontaminated crops that are on high demand on the international market.
This is expected to boost command irrigation and infrastructural development, with farmers having an opportunity to be trained in production and processing of the high value crops.
The crops include high quality okra, peas, beans, cucumbers, chillies, celery, broccoli and lettuce.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made confirmed that vegetables and fruits from Zimbabwe were being sought after on the international market because of their palatability.
He said countries in Europe, Asia and America were seeking tasty and healthy food and Zimbabwe was one of the major producers of the crops.
Dr Made could not divulge how much was involved in the multi-million dollar deal.
“The country is considering the request from Germany for horticultural crops,” he said. “German investors are interested in investing in vegetables of all classes and this is a welcome development.
“The vegetables have been given sequence with the month they will be on peak demand and will be supported throughout the year. This gives a big boost to command irrigation and processing. Some of the vegetables require specialised grading and packaging and this means there will be an opportunity for farmers to be trained as well.”
Zimbabwe has maintained its stance on GMOs and will not allow production of GM crops or Bt cotton.
Dr Made expressed gratitude to President Mugabe and Cabinet for supporting Zimbabwe’s position to remain a GMO free territory.
“President Mugabe and Cabinet supported the position when everybody else was trying to misdirect us,” he said. “There is growing interest in organic food and increased demand from Europe for our commodities. China and the United States are also showing interest and farmers should take advantage of this.
“I want to plead with all seed houses not to introduce GMO seed. Any seed house found wanting to introduce GMOs in this country will be dealt with. We will take stern measures because there is a highly priced niche market seeking vegetables and other agricultural products and animals fed on GMO free stock feeds.”
The increase in demand for the horticultural products on the international market also comes with development of infrastructure, particularly water and green houses.
“It also increases the opportunity for women and youths into horticultural production,” he said. “This is also an opportunity to buttress the position that we have remained GMO and Bt cotton free.”
Zimbabwe was once one of the largest exporters of a wide range of horticultural products in Africa, supplying overseas markets, including Europe and the Middle East.
The country also became a valuable exporter of cut flowers, and by 2001, it was ranked as the second largest in Africa, behind Kenya, and was the fifth biggest exporter to the EU.
Zimbabwe’s major export destinations in the EU were United Kingdom, Netherlands, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany.