Mr Davis Marapira, who was recently transferred from being the Minister of State in the Office of the President and Cabinet in charge of Monitoring the Implementation of Special Agricultural and Related Programmes has said citrus production has declined over the years.
He said there is a strong need for Government and its partners to invest more and capacitate farmers in the horticulture sector for them to increase their annual contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking after touring citrus production projects in Beitbridge on Monday, Marapira who is now with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development said:
Horticulture in Zimbabwe at the moment is still very low, the production is below 5 percent.
A good example is citrus, as a country we used to do 10 000 hectares and currently, we are only doing 5000 hectares and citrus production has shifted from the northern part (Mazowe) to the southern part (Beitbridge) of the country.
He said these need to be assisted to expand and increase production to be able to meet the demand for citrus locally and for the international market.
He said at the moment, the Beitbridge Juice Company was struggling to meet their target of exporting 40 000 tonnes of citrus products annually.
They need at least 5000 hectares of land for them to be able to do 3000 hectares of citrus and related products, the minister said according to The Herald’s Thumelo Muleya.
Marapira also said it is important for the government to give them land and make sure that they have a 99-year lease so that they can access finances.
Zimbabwe’s Agriculture sector has been struggling since the turn of the millennium when the country embarked on the fast-track land reform programme that was marred by human rights violations.
“New farmers” cite climate change and lack of adequate financial support as some of the leading challenges they are facing.