ZimTrade seeks export markets for wild fruits, herbs

Source: ZimTrade seeks export markets for wild fruits, herbs | Herald (Business)

The growing demand for herbs also comes from the diverse use of products that also include conventional and traditional medicine, food supplements, dietary supplements, and cosmetics

Enacy Mapakame

Business Reporter

National trade promotion body, ZimTrade, says there is huge potential to transform local communities through enhanced production and export of value-added traditional fruits and herbs into European markets.

This comes as the world over, people are becoming conscious of the health benefits of traditional foods.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) says that changing consumer preferences for natural health products, such as wild fruits and natural herbs, has presented a niche that exporters in many least developed countries are looking to develop for sustainable production and export trade.

The growing demand for herbs also comes from the diverse use of products that also include conventional and traditional medicine, food supplements, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.

Zimbabwe has vast sources of wild fruits ranging from mauyu (Baobab), masau (Ziziphus Mauritania), matohwe (Azanza garckeana) and natural herbs including zumbani (Lippia Javanica), muhacha (Hissing tree) and moringa.

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic also created high demand for zumbani while other herbs such as aloe vera, apple mint, borage, penny royal, calendula and basil have been to be useful with ailments such as hepatitis, fibroids, herpes zoster, respiratory infections, nausea, and kidney and bladder in ammation.

Initiatives for export of wild fruits and herbs, according to ZimTrade, require integration of previously marginalised communities such as rural communities, young people, and women who can help in growing the much-needed high volumes in export business.

This will also be in line with the Second Republic’s ambitions of achieving all-inclusive economic growth, which “leaves no one and no place behind.”

Apart from the usual horticulture products, wild fruits and herbs, which are found in abundance in the country, could help diversify exports, while creating earnings for local communities.

Zimbabwe, which realised record export receipts of nearly US$10 billion last year, is heavily dependent on export of unbeneficiated or semi-processed commodities, meaning value added wild fruits and herb shipments would widen the country’s export basket.

“In this inclusion thrust, what is important is identifying key products and services that will make it easy to integrate rural communities into mainstream export business. This is where wild fruits and herbs become crucial.

“By harnessing wild fruits and herbs that are already found in abundance across all provinces, the country can integrate rural communities into international trade and economic development.

“Indigenous wild fruits and herbs can be used as a springboard to penetrate international markets due to fewer manufacturing processes required in preserving and packaging of the ­final products.

“Given the potential to increase exports of wild fruits and herbs, there is also room for these products to contribute signifi­cantly to sustainable livelihoods through creation of employment, community development and increased production for food security,” said ZimTrade.

To achieve this, the trade promotion body highlighted the need for provision of requisite investment downstream and export promotion services to enable rural communities to participate in the global market by tapping into the resources at their disposal at the community level.

Some of the groups, including those in rural communities, are already receiving export capacity interventions targeted at improving their products in line with expectations of international markets.

Areas such as post-harvest handling, packaging, branding and labelling, and international marketing are some of the disciplines that these groups are being exposed to, as ZimTrade prepares them for international markets.

Traditional health care practitioners, traditional healers and consumption at the household level have all contributed to the demand for traditional medicinal plants and herbs.

In terms of costs, most wild fruits and natural herbs grow in the wild, hence the cost of producing related export products is lower, which makes it easier for rural communities, women, and youths to take part in economic activities that will earn them foreign currency.

Already, there are locals exporting baobab powder to countries like Germany and Switzerland and these can be used to establish routes to penetrate more international markets.

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