Knowledge Transfer Africa (KTA) chief executive officer Charles Dhewa said the surging imports in fruits has led to the stagnation of the local fruit industry.
This comes as the first six months of 2015 saw a total of 19 products being sold in the wholesale market generating estimated revenue of $7,77 million from around Zimbabwe and a few additional imports so as to satisfy the local demand.
“About 70% of the fruit distributed in the local market comes from South Africa. Over the past few years our fruit industry has stagnated and we see fruits mainly coming from South Africa, talking about oranges, apples, grapes, pineapples, pears, and peaches as well, just to name a few,” Dhewa told NewsDay yesterday.
“Even those fruits that we used to produce from our own Eastern Highlands we now import them from South Africa and this is uncomfortable given that we used to produce the fruits ourselves.”
Dhewa said volumes from the local market had dwindled with only 30% of fruit distributed in the country coming from local farmers.
As such, the wholesale market consumes most of the produce from local farmers for sale at a higher price.
Local farmers face high production costs, inadequate funding and lack of long-term planning.
During the period January to June, apples had total sales of $169 802 at an average price of $18,33 per box. Oranges had sales of $49 200 and average price per pocket was $4, 50 and peaches $10 800 at an average price per crate of $18.
“A lot of people have stopped organised funding and that has meant our fruits being abandoned. We are capable, but a lot of people have lost confidence in our production because of the land reform programme. We need to build confidence in our produce as a country,” Dhewa said.
“Since our production is low, there has been this influx of produce from South Africa. The reason why South Africans took advantage of our situation to bring commodities here is our value chains have collapsed.”
Dhewa said agriculture used to be much more organised from production all the way to processing, but had since stagnated which had given rise to smuggling of produce that is mainly found in big fruit outlets.
Different outlets that distribute the fruit rely more on produce from South Africa especially franchise outlets. Some of the biggest franchise outlets distributing fruit in the country include Food Lover’s Market and Pick n Pay, with local ones being Honeydew Farm, Favco and traders in the informal market.
“We need to revive our industries and get even more industries that can do value addition on our fruit. A lot can happen with our fruit from drying to juicing. A lot of commodities can come out of our fruit,” Dhewa said.
KTA provides feasible solutions for the sustainability of agribusiness through knowledge and technology generation and transfer.