When we are dealing with horticulture we are looking at fruits and vegetables. Various branches make up the horticulture industry. Some of the common ones that I will mention here are just three. There is what is called olericulture – the production of vegetables. We also have pomology – the production of fruits. Then we have floriculture – the production of floral crops. These 3 are just some of them; there are more. Horticulture is very crucial to foreign currency generation in Zimbabwe. When the industry was still vibrant it used to contribute at least 5 per cent to Zimbabwe’s GDP. Anyways, today I want to focus on how to find markets for your horticulture produce.

Export Markets

The export markets are not your typical markets. This is because you do not just wake up and decide you want to direct your product towards export markets. There are regulatory frameworks that must be adhered to that start even from before you actually grow your horticulture crops. When it comes to export markets the best place to find assistance is ZimTrade. ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion organisation, is the unique joint venture partnership between the Private Sector and the Government of Zimbabwe. It was established in 1991.

On their site, you will find details on exporter readiness, exporter guidelines, trade agreements, trade policies, and trade regulations plus much more. You will also find details on export markets namely, market surveys, market briefs, market pointers, and country fact sheets. If you are focused on exporting horticulture produce you must definitely visit the ZimTrade website.

The prospects are huge when you consider the export markets. However, you cannot afford to do things shoddily. You have to be very professional and be sure you are doing things by the book. In the majority of cases, you find that you will have to be certified to grow and export horticulture crops.

Local Markets

The local market is broad and diverse with many options to consider. The most immediate one is your community – sales can be realized just from people in surrounding communities. From the communities, it can be individuals and families. Another strategic market is vendors who can directly buy horticulture produce from the producers. Then we have shops and supermarkets which can enter working agreements with producers for regular supplies. There are also produce markets – typical examples are Mbare Musika. There are such produce markets in virtually any location in the country. Through these markets, it is very easy to sell quite significant amounts of horticulture produce. In a nutshell, it is broadly about retail and wholesale. In summary, the different types of market segments that horticulture produce can be channelled to locally are vendors, wholesalers, supermarkets, catering outlets, institutions such as schools, and companies that deal with processing.

Some Dynamics To Leverage On

If you have noticed, the availability of horticulture produce tends to be seasonal. What I mean by seasonal is that there are times when there is plenty of products on the market that leads to prices even plummeting due to sky-high supply rates. Then there are times when horticulture produce is so unavailable. As a farmer, you must closely study these trends to strategically tap into the market at opportune times. These seasonal issues tend to be location-specific so you must look at your areas of operations contextually. Also bear in mind that supplying fresh horticulture produce is the most lucrative. This is because if you channel your horticulture produce for the processing market the prices you fetch tend to be lower.

If you are interested in venturing into horticulture in Zimbabwe let me list for you some of the common crops on the market. They are tomatoes, onions, cabbages, leafy greens, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, butternuts, garlic, lettuce, broccoli, beans, peas, okra, gem squash, sweet potatoes, and eggplants. The first 5 that I mentioned are actually the most popular (in that order). Horticulture is a great place to invest in Zimbabwe because of its huge local and international prospects. I must, however, highlight that most horticulture farmers struggle to find markets for their produce. There is a need for collaboration from amongst farmers and also the public and private sectors.