By Vivinah Matswetu
In recent years, a global movement towards environmental consciousness, termed “Eco-Awakening,” or the ‘Green Wave’ has been reshaping consumer behavior and business practices worldwide. This shift is not only a response to the growing awareness of climate change and biodiversity loss but also a reflection of consumer demand for sustainable products and in turn shaping the future of global exports.
This article provides an overview of the various factors contributing to the eco-awakening in global exports. It highlights the importance of sustainability in the current export climate and the potential for growth in this sector.
The Rise of Green Exports
Zimbabwe, a country with abundant natural resources and a strong agricultural base, stands at a pivotal point in this emerging trend. The nation’s economy, which has seen growth in sectors like mining and tourism, is increasingly influenced by global eco-conscious trends. As the world leans towards sustainability, Zimbabwe’s export sector is poised to undergo significant transformation.
As environmental awareness grows, so does the demand for sustainable products. Countries and companies that have traditionally relied on exports are now pivoting towards greener alternatives. From organic produce to renewable energy technologies, the export market is witnessing a surge in eco-friendly goods. This shift is not only driven by consumer demand but also by stringent environmental regulations that push for sustainable practices.
Sustainable Agriculture and Export Growth
Agriculture remains a cornerstone of Zimbabwe’s economy. With the eco-awakening, there’s a growing preference for sustainably produced goods. Zimbabwean farmers are adopting eco-friendly practices, such as organic farming and conservation agriculture, to meet this demand. These practices not only improve the quality of exports but also ensure the long-term health of the land. Such practices include The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as well The Global Gap Certification that emphasizes good environmental practice in agriculture and forestry, ensuring that food production and environmental protection go hand in hand.
High-Tech Communications Trade
The digital revolution has brought about a new era of high-tech communications trade. With the rise of remote work and digital services, there is an increasing export of software, cybersecurity solutions, and cloud-based services. These intangible exports leave a smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional goods, aligning with the eco-awakening ethos.
The revolution in communications technologies has made many services tradable across borders and has increased the importance of their contribution to international trade, economic growth and development. With the current drive to increase services exports from Zimbabwe, this is a space that companies in the digital space can take up and ensure the growth of the sector.
The diversification of manufacturing in Asia is another factor influencing global exports. Countries like Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh are emerging as new manufacturing hubs. Their ability to produce goods sustainably and at competitive prices is making them attractive export partners for countries seeking to reduce their environmental impact.
Bangladesh’s manufacturing sector is undergoing a crucial transformation, the sector, which has grown significantly over the last decade, is predominantly driven by the export-oriented Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry.
This trend presents an opportunity or Zimbabwe and with the right policies and investments, the country can position itself as a leader in eco-friendly exports. Fluctuating global commodity prices have a direct impact on exports. The volatility of oil prices, for instance, affects the cost of transportation and, consequently, the price of exported goods. However, the green wave is leading to a greater emphasis on local production and shorter supply chains, which can mitigate the effects of such fluctuations.
The eco-awakening is more than a trend; it’s a necessary evolution of the global economy. For Zimbabwe, embracing this green wave could mean a brighter, more sustainable future, where its exports are not only valued for their quality but also for the ethical and environmental considerations behind them. As the world moves forward, Zimbabwe has the chance to ride the crest of the green wave, shaping a legacy that will benefit both the planet and its people.
Product Focus: Baobab fruit
Baobab is an inherent tree to certain regions of Africa, Arabia, Australia, and Madagascar. Baobab trees are among the biggest and longest-living trees in the world. Baobab trees are normally seen in warm regions. They do well in sandy-to-sandy loam and well-drained. The trees can grow up to 30 meters tall and produce a large fruit that is commonly consumed and appreciated for its delicious flavor.
Health benefits of Baobab fruit
Baobab is a good source of vitamins and minerals the pulp is high in vitamin C, antioxidants and several key minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc whereas the seeds and kernel of the plant are loaded with fiber, fat and micronutrients like thiamine, calcium and iron. There are also multiple other benefits such as helping balancing blood sugar levels, high fiber content also promotes digestive health. However research has shown that the nutritional content of baobab can vary depending on the geographical location where it’s grown and between different parts of the plant, such as the leaves, pulp, and seeds.
Baobab fruit value addition
In recent years, since baobab products started to gain economic significance, a number of companies and individuals are now involved in the picking and value addition of the baobab fruit into oil, wine, coffee, powder, and juice. The baobab sector has the potential to improve livelihoods of many through rural development, employment creation and access to new export markets. Furthermore clusters are being developed to meet the required export demands.
Baobab fruit market potential
According to tridge in 2021 the global top importer of baobab was United States of America having imported baobab worth US$855.22 million, other notable importers were China US$590.57 million, Germany US$330.89 million, and France US$239.36 million.
Due to the increase in demand of organic foods the export market for baobab products is growing big. The increase in world demand for organic foods and organic wine will see Zimbabwean produced baobab wine and powder performing well on the export market. With the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) baobab products have potential to reach more export markets due to the comparative advantage Zimbabwe has on baobab.
Producing baobab and baobab products also offers an opportunity to diversify income sources farmers in different communities. An opportunity exists for Zimbabwe to take advantage of Africa’s image as a ‘natural’ continent to increase our market share in the organic horticultural sector.