Zimbabwe’s development agenda is anchored on an export-led economy, with the bulk of exports being value-added products.
Here, the country is targeting to grow its exports to US$7 billion in 2023 and US$14 billion in 2030, as espoused in the National Export Strategy, launched by President E. D. Mnangagwa.
These targets will ensure that the country achieves an upper-middle income status by 2030, which will be characterised by improved livelihoods, better infrastructure, and higher job creation.
To achieve these targets, the Second Republic is implementing a devolution plan, which is expected to increase the contribution of all provinces and districts to national economy.
As provinces scout for areas that will make it easy to up their participation in the development of the entire country, easy wins will be focusing on areas they enjoy competitive and comparative advantages.
Having identified these areas, the major step will be harnessing their export potential, targeting regional markets first for small businesses, and later international markets as sector clusters.
National trade development and promotion organisation, ZimTrade, has since conducted research to determine low-hanging fruits for all provinces across the country.
For example, Mashonaland West has been identified to have potential in sectors such as agriculture and horticulture, processed foods, arts and crafts, clothing and textile, furniture, and packaging.
From these sectors, indications are that Mashonaland West, as a province, has capacity to earn more than US$400 million in export annually from value-added exports.
This potential was derived for the province using the highest export values from the available data per prioritized line of product and guided by the Trade Map data on Zimbabwe’s export values from 2013-2019 complemented by research findings.
This potential can be realized or surpassed if efforts are channelled towards developing capacity of businesses and farmers in Mashonaland West, as well as build collaborative centres to make it easy for sector players to coordinate, improve standards, and consolidate orders where possible.
The economy in Makonde district is largely supported by agriculture, with crops such as tobacco, maize, wheat, soya beans taking the larger space in the sector.
Given the contribution of the sector the Province’s economy, there is room for some farmers to channel their production capacities towards horticultural crops such as sweet potatoes, peas, and passion fruit.
There is also need to unlock potential for fruit trees such as avocados, macadamia, in the district, which will go a long way in diversifying production of fruits in non-traditional growing areas.
As Zimbabwe has different micro-climates resulting in different ecological areas, research may also be done to take advantage of the climatic conditions in Makonde District to extend the window periods for crops that the country is already exporting.
Further to this, four districts in the province – Makonde, Chegutu, Zvimba and Mhondoro Ngezi – have been implementing the Pig Value Chain project since 2019.
Successful implementation of the project will go a long way in growing exports of the pork value chain production within the province.
Agriculture and animal husbandry are some of the key activities supporting the economy in Chegutu district.
From the agriculture sector, farmers in the districts can tap into production of high value crops such as blueberries.
Resuscitation of citrus production will also unlock access to international markets such as China.
With improved support of the entire agriculture value chain, there is room for the sector to feed into food processing industry in the district, with focus on products such as soft beverages, canned foods, sauces, and spreads.
Given the history in production of fabrics, resuscitating the clothing and textiles industry in the district will help grow exports of fabric, ranging from fashion, javas, industrials, curtaining and school uniforms.
Other activities that can be earmarked for export development are paper production, and animal husbandry.
Zvimba district has been making significant strides in increased agriculture production, with some farmers engaging in export crops such as blueberries, peas, granadillas, and carrots.
Recently, there has been a growing number of farmers who are planning to venture into citrus production and developing an export cluster around the sub-sector will help improve export-oriented production.
With more training, information dissemination and market linkage support extended to established and new farmers in Zvimba, the district has potential to grow its exports from these products.
Outside the tourism and fishing sector, Kariba district has a well-established crocodile farming subs-sector, which has supported exports from the districts over the past years.
Crocodile skins from Kariba are currently being exported to Europe, with indications of further markets in Asia, and Middle-East.
To support and sustain exports of crocodile skins, there is need to capacitate and integrate small scale producers into mainstream export markets.
Further to this, the improved flow of tourists into the district, following the relaxation of travel restrictions across the world has potential to revive exports of arts and crafts in Kariba.
Some of the unique products include the Nyami Nyami traditional chairs resembling cultural values for the Tonga people.
Further support in production of these products has huge export potential.
Traditional, the district has exported fish to regional countries such as Zambia.
Addressing challenges affecting sector players will help revive fish exports from the district.
Although Hurungwe district is largely an agriculture economy, with traditional crops such as maize, nuts, and soyabeans, there is room to venture into horticulture crops.
Further to this, the district has huge opportunities in apiculture in terms of honey production.
Further support in terms of training and market linkages would lead to increased output suitable for increased exports of honey into regional markets.
Organizing small and big players involved in honey production will improve production and enhanced export of honey from the district.
Agriculture is the most common activity supporting livelihoods in Sanyati.
A study by Jephias and Machiya (2020) found that the main crops grown in Sanyati District are maize, cotton, soya beans, groundnuts, cowpeas and small grains such as rapoko, sorghum and millet.
As communities in Sanyati are mostly smallholder farmers, there is potential to group them and focus on horticultural produce that can do well in the district.
These produce include peas, beans, chillies, and peppers.
There are farmers who are already growing ground nuts and cowpeas for local markets and can be assisted to unlock access to regional and international markets.
The major economic drivers in Mhondoro-Ngezi district are mining and agriculture.
For mining businesses in Mhondoro-Ngezi to benefit more from their activities, they need to consider value-addition and beneficiation, which will improve their earnings.
Whilst most mining business are exporting raw products, value added products can increase their international market share.
Industries actively involved in value addition can create employment for the various functions that are needed such as machine operators, factory workforce and research and development personnel.
Further to mining activities, there is a growing number of crafters in Mhondoro-Ngezi who have reported some exports to regional markets such as Namibia and Angola.
If these players get support, there is huge export potential through growth of this sector in the district.