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European Union Launches Project to Boost Zimbabwe Exports

FILE: A woman and her baby walk past bags of tobacco early in the selling season in Harare. Zimbabwe thrived on tobacco and other farm exports until the government-instigated seizures, often violent, of white-owned commercial farms starting in 2000.

The European Union is spending about one million Euros in a project designed to increase Zimbabwe’s agricultural production and boost exports to the EU market by ensuring its exports are highly competitive and conform to the region’s standards.

The standards set out basic rules for food safety and animal imports into the European Union.

The European Union sanitary and phytosanitary measures are meant to protect human and animal life from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food stuffs.

Launching the project in Harare, EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, said the project is aimed at strengthening Zimbabwe’s sanitary and phytosanitary institutions to ensure that its exports meet the requirements of the EU market.

Van Damme said though exporting to European markets is possible, at present not many Zimbabwean producers can meet the required standards.

Dr. Ashish Shah, who is country programs director for implementing partners, International Trade Center, said the project precisely seeks to address that.

The 15-month project will also promote good agricultural practice to ensure the products are safe for consumption, improve knowledge of EU sanitary and phytosanitary measures, setting up and revamping existing testing laboratories, among other things.

Agriculture minister, Joseph Made, said Zimbabwe was grateful to the EU as it is under threat from genetically modified materials and diseases related to climate change.

Report On EU Exports Filed By Irwin Chifera
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For tobacco farmer, Julius Chibaya, the project is welcome as most farmers do not have adequate resources and modern technology to produce commodities that are highly competitive.

Zimbabwe National Farmers Union director, Edward Dune, is optimistic that the project will boost production and exports in the agriculture sector.

Zimbabwe enjoys duty and quota free access to the EU market under the economic partnership agreement with Europe of 2009. The agreement was ratified in 2012.

Last year, Zimbabwe exported agricultural products worth Euro 400 million to Europe with tobacco accounting for 25 percent of the exports.