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Building a strong supply chain in Zimbabwe

With a unique climate, Zimbabwe is able to deliver fruits and vegetables to the international markets at a time when other countries cannot supply. Zimbabwe can supply peas in spring and summer, blueberries in October, and stone fruit and avocados earlier than its neighbour country South Africa.

Zimtrade, the national trade development and promotion organisation in Zimbabwe, partners with PUM Netherlands senior experts to improve the horticultural sector in Zimbabwe. The goal is that air and ocean freighted fruits, and vegetables arrive in the European Union and the United Kingdom with optimal quality that enjoy a long shelf life.

Sustainable solutions

The swing of the political movement disrupted the development of the horticultural sector and discouraged long-term investment. This leads to not only a drop in all exports, but also various constraints such as poor temperature management and inadequate extension support which in turn results in less quality of the products when arriving in EU and UK. Although airfreight is part of the solution to this, it is very costly and has a much higher carbon footprint. With proper temperature management Zimbabwe could deliver high quality perishable fruits and vegetables to UK and EU with ocean freight that is much cheaper and sustainable.

The partnership between Zimtrade and PUM aims to optimise the supply chain from farm to consumer by realising the best agricultural practices with good post-harvest techniques, modern packaging and strict temperature management on farm as well as beyond the farm gate. The fruitful collaboration has resulted in a programme called “Successful horticultural exports by building a strong perishable supply chain in Zimbabwe.”

Quality improvement

The programme has selected three medium sized farms as the Best Model Farms. These farms export products such as peas with GlobalGap certification. To begin with, the goals are to optimise the farms’ agricultural practices with modern farming techniques to achieve better quality. Opportunities to produce other fruits and vegetables will also be looked at. Meanwhile, optimal sorting, grading, pre-cooling and packaging on-farm are also important aspects to be improved. The cold chain will be strictly maintained along the supply chain beyond the farm gate. Both air and ocean freighted products will arrive in EU and UK with an optimal quality that enjoy a long shelf life. PUM’s senior experts as well as other partners involved in the programme will provide business advice as well as technical support to the Best Model farms.