Zimbabwe should tap into the Netherlands’ growing demand for avocados thereby turning around the country’s external sector fortunes, a senior government official has said.
Speaking at the milestone celebrations of PUM in Harare yesterday, Judith Kateera, permanent secretary for Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotions ministry said avocado consumption in the Netherlands had increased to 49 million kg last year from 10 million kg in 2008, presenting an opportunity for Zimbabwe.
“Are you aware that during 2016, according to the Netherlands National Statistics Office (CBC), Netherlands became the second largest importer of avocado fruit after United States, importing a record €433 million. Most of the avocado is imported from South Africa, Peru and Chile. Avocado consumption in the Netherlands has risen from 10 million kg in 2008 to 49 million kg in 2016,” he said.
These figures are meant to illustrate how the Netherlands market is so strategic in turning around Zimbabwe’s external sector fortunes.”
PUM is a volunteer development agency of the Netherlands which delivers support to small-to-medium enterprises to enhance their productivity and competitiveness, with a special focus on food security, women and youth, and climate change.
Last year, ZimTrade and PUM signed a memorandum of understanding to provide technical interventions to the horticultural sector focusing on enhancing productivity and export competitiveness. The MoU forged a closer working relationship between ZimTrade and PUM as it assisted Zimbabwean enterprises to access technical assistance from the PUM experts, ZimTrade board chairperson Lance Jena said.
“To date, 24 applications for assistance have been lodged with PUM through ZimTrade, while 13 missions have been completed and 11 applications are still being processed. PUM has indicated that it is targeting 100 companies in Zimbabwe for assistance in 2017,” Jena said.
Kateera said the PUM programme was a “vital cog in fulfilling a national reform agenda”.
“You are complementing a government effort in a practical way,” she said.
Netherlands outgoing ambassador to Zimbabwe Gera Sneller said it has “been a privilege to be able to assist those Zimbabweans to make a better today and tomorrow”.
PUM beneficiary Gobvu said the support they got from the programme has given his company “connections, the people that we have met and the experts”.
“We have cut our losses by 10%,” he said.
Millennium Footwear administrator Simali said the engagement of a PUM expert has improved the company’s efficiencies and the shoes were now meeting international standards.
“We are saving a dollar per pair which is over $1 000 a month and over $12 000 per year,” she said.