The devolution agenda spearheaded by President E.D Mnangagwa is premised on the realisation that national development targets can be easily achieved through full and equal participation of everyone in economic development.
Already, the Second Republic has been implementing several activities along devolution to achieve equitable economic development and equalisation for all parts of the country.
The implementation of these activities is expected to unlock meaningful economic opportunities that will make attainment of Vision 2030 a reality.
As President Mnangagwa has made it clear that individual Provinces must champion their development trajectory, businesses and leaders need to exploit areas they enjoy competitive advantages.
In Zimbabwe, each province is distinct and endowed with resources that can aid in the creation of export goods with the ability to thrive in the export markets.
For example, Manicaland province – a gateway to Mozambique – has good climatic conditions that makes it easy to grow diversified products for export markets.
The province spans all the five natural regions, creating the opportunity for a range of agricultural activities from the high rainfall areas of Vumba Highlands in Region 1 to the dry and hot areas of Middle Sabi in Region 5
The province is endowed with perennial rivers, including the Odzi River, which stretches from Nyanga District through Mutasa and Mutare West districts and drains into the Save River, which borders Manicaland and Masvingo provinces to the south.
Other perennial rivers include the Pungwe and Honde in Mutasa and Mpudzi, Muroti, Mukuni and Sakubva in Mutare.
These rivers and several dams in the provinces create good conditions to grow crops throughout the year.
By no doubt, horticulture is one of the lowest hanging export fruits for businesses and communities in Manicaland.
The sector has the potential to gain a strong global competitive position, thereby providing substantial social and economic benefits to the province and the country at large.
Further to this the global markets for horticultural products remain attractive and Manicaland has the potential to supply the global horticulture market since production of fruits and vegetables continues to move away from the industrialised nations and exports continue to outpace production.
The dynamic region produces fresh produce which is also exported to various international destination as well as can produce herbs, baobab products and capsicum products like paprika and chillies.
Currently, products that are exported with meaningful values include, avocados, bananas, flowers, tea, coffee, macadamia, citrus, mangoes, cotton, pineapples, sweet potatoes, honey, and sugar beans.
The growing demand for macadamia, as a healthy nut, across the world presents huge opportunities for Manicaland.
The market for macadamia has been consistently growing over the years and there are no signs of that changing.
The country’s macadamia exports are coming from Manicaland areas such as Chipinge, Chimanimani, Honde Valley, and Nyanga are exported to China, South Africa, Thailand, Malawi, and Hong Kong.
Zimbabwe’s exports of macadamia in shell in 2021 were around US$14 million, according to Trade Map, and this can largely be accounted to Manicaland alone.
There is room for Manicaland to perform much better.
Producers can earn more from export markets if they export value-added produce, instead of nuts in shell, which make the bulk of what Manicaland is currently exporting.
The Kenyan experience, where deliberate policies have been put in place to promote value addition, has shown that export revenue can increase.
Zimbabwe can pursue that model.
According to CBI, exports of macadamia nuts in shell from Kenya without written authorisation from the Cabinet Secretary have been illegal since 2009 under Section 43 of the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Act.
This has forced all macadamia grow in Kenya to be processed locally, which in turn has increased on earnings, necessitated development of local processers, advanced domestic value addition, created jobs and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers, particularly rural families.
Value-added macadamia products can be targeted at specific markets that will guarantee sales.
For example, peeled macadamia is an ingredient for some traditional dishes in Japan.
In Europe, the nuts are used to produce nut oil, macadamia milk, macadamia honey, butter production and chocolate coating.
Bananas are also a low handing plantation fruit for districts in Manicaland.
Bananas are mainly grown in Mutasa, Honde Valley, Rusitu, Chimanimani and Chipinge areas and are in markets such as South Africa and Zambia, with further room to supply Mozambique, and Botswana.
There is scope to earn more if farmers grow banana production, which according to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement (MLAFWRR) reached 1,089,070 metric tons at peak in 2010.
New plantations that have been coming up in areas such as Middle-Sabi can be used as a model to integrate smallholder farmers into mainstream export business.
Capacity building and interventions and financial support must be availed to farmers, especially smallholder and rural farmers who make up the bulk of banana producers in the province.
Further to this, a study conducted a few years ago revealed that most bananas produced by smallholder farmers in Manicaland are organic and this can be used as a strong selling point to increase exports.
However, necessary organic certification will be required, which will enable farmers to earn a premium market value.
Tea and coffee
The Manicaland province also has potential to surpass US$50 million worth of tea and coffee exports. Currently Zimbabwe’s exports of tea and coffee are valued at around US$19 million, according to Trade Map.
Key export destination of tea from the country includes South Africa, United States of America, United Kingdom, Russia and Germany. Zimbabwean coffee has been exported to countries like Germany, France, Italy and Japan.
The Tamuka MuZimbabwe brand is a prime coffee brand that is sold in Sweden by Nepresso.
This coffee is predominantly produced by smallholder farmers whose quality has attracted the established coffee blender.
The Manicaland Province should also take advantage of popular tea brands like Tanganda, Quickbrew and Three Leaves to increase exports from Manicaland.
Established companies like Tanganda, Ariston and Eastern Highlands Plantations have thriving out grower schemes that has boosted their exports and a similar model can be adopted by established groups on other crops.
Avocados and other fruits
Thanks to the growing production of avocados in Manicaland, Zimbabwe is emerging one of the leading exporters of avocados from Africa.
What is encouraging about avocado production is that the variety grown in Manicaland is what is sought after around the world.
Around 80 percent of avocados produced and consumed worldwide are Hass which also happens to be the main variety grown for exports in Manicaland.
Further to avocados, Manicaland is home to larger plantations of fruits such as stone fruits, and apples.
The examples of stone fruits include that have potential include cherries, peaches, apricots, lychees, nectarines, plums, berries, and mangoes amongst others.
The taste of these fruits has since been confirmed to be top quality by some of the leading retailers in Europe, which is a key market for Manicaland grown fruits.
Zimbabwe commercial timber industry is concentrated in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe in Manicaland, which is the Province with favourable climatic and environmental conditions for the fasting growing exotic species.
Manicaland is home to several types of wood that can be used, for example for structural purposes in building and construction; treated and untreated poles for transmission lines; hardwood for furniture manufacturing; and industrial wood for packaging, pallets, and cable drums.
Current producers in Manicaland employ internationally recognized forest practices and this has resulted in some of the highest quality sustainably managed plantations in Africa.
Manicaland-grown timber and poles have a ready market in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia.
Buyers in these markets, particularly Botswana already prefer Zimbabwe’s products compared to competition.
Other emerging markets for Manicaland timber include Mozambique, and Democratic Republic of Congo.