Author Archives: mahemuestate

Zimbabwe aims to grow a biodiversity economy

In an effort to mainstream the value and contribution of nature in development planning and policy development, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, supported by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), recently announced the landmark Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy report.

Zimbabwe aims to grow a biodiversity economy
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The report provides a framework for unlocking the key role of nature in harnessing opportunities and the long-term, sustainable growth of a biodiversity economy.

“The AWF is pleased to have partnered with the ministry to produce the report, which not only sets a baseline on the value and contribution of nature, but also identifies viable business and investment opportunities through which Zimbabwe can unlock the enormous potential value in its rich biodiversity,” AWF Zimbabwe director Olivia Mufute said.

Acting secretary in the ministry Tariro Musonza said at the launch of the report in Harare: “The legal and policy frameworks [in the report] seek to create an enabling environment for natural resources conservation and sustainable use. These processes will no doubt enhance Zimbabwe’s biodiversity economy.”

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The AWF said on its website that conservation intervention was critical to ensuring Zimbabwe’s natural resources persisted for generations to come. The country, for instance, at one time was covered by an abundance of forests and wildlife and was recognised as a leading destination for wildlife-based tourism.

However, political instability, major droughts, poverty, a growing population, and a lack of fuel have all led to massive deforestation. This, in turn, resulted in soil erosion and the destruction of destroying of some fertile farming land.

Dr Hendrik Smith, a conservation agriculture expert and CEO of Asset Research, pointed out that regenerative agriculture principles in farming operations was the biggest investment that Southern African farmers could make in the health of the planet.

“Regenerative agriculture principles are aimed at improving biodiversity and water-use efficiency, while combating climate change,” Smith said.

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape.
Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business.
Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds.
She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.

Zambia aims to raise honey exports to the EU and elsewhere

Zambia’s North-Western Province, near the border with Angola, is known as the country’s top honey-producing region because of its woodlands that sustain bees and beekeeping.

Zambia aims to raise honey exports to the EU and elsewhere
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Other factors are the availability of water all year round and a shaded, relatively undisturbed environment, although the serenity is disturbed by increasing cases of deforestation. Forest fires that are used for clearing of woodlands for crop production and settlement, coupled with harvesting of wood fuel for urban consumption, also contribute significantly to deforestation. Research shows this situation has affected the country’s honey output in recent years.

Honey production in Zambia has nevertheless shown a 1,2% year-on-year growth since 1973. As of 2021, Zambia was the 88th largest honey producer in the world, with 853t tons produced in that year. The country remains determined to exploit the European market with its honey production.

Zambia had the potential to produce 20 000t of honey annually if production capacities coupled with infrastructure were harnessed, said Fisheries and Livestock Minister Makozo Chikote.

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“On 20 August this year, the Zambia Residue Control Plan was approved, and the country has successfully secured the necessary certification to continue to be listed as a non-EU country authorised to export honey to the EU,” he said.

“The certification is essential because it ensures the safety of our honey in line with the stringent EU food production requirements and provides market competitiveness for Zambia’s honey and other beehive products like beeswax, and this good for our farmers.”

According to Chikote, Zambia has in recent years been exporting honey to various countries in the Americas, Asia, Central and Southern Africa, and in 2022 alone earned US$14,3 million (about R270 million).

The first written records of Zambian beehives date back to 1854, when David Livingstone described log and bark hives, suspended from branches, used by the Lunda people. Today, traditional beekeeping in Zambia using the bark hive technology prevails amongst the Luvale tribes of the Kabompo and Mwinilunga districts in North-Western Province.

On average a beekeeper in these areas, most of which are men, has 73 bark hives, but not all are occupied at the same time.

In recent years, farmers across the country have become interested in beekeeping and are adopting different technologies suitable for their socio-economic and environmental conditions.

New export destinations for livestock producers

The conflict and political unrest in Sudan have opened up an additional export market for red meat from Namibia in the Middle East. This was according to a statement by the Namibian Meat Board following a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.

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The Meat Board said in the statement that the UAE had emerged as a market for the exportation of red meat. The UAE previously imported about 80% of its meat from Sudan, but the turbulence in that country had made further imports highly problematic. This created an ideal opportunity for Namibia to access that specific market.

During the exploratory mission, the significance of halaal certification for exporting meat to Muslim-dominated countries like the UAE and Qatar was emphasised. Halaal certification ensured that meat processing procedures adhered to Islamic dietary laws to make it acceptable for Muslims to consume.

The Halaal Trade and Marketing Centre urged Namibia to speed up the certification process to meet the preferences and requirements of the UAE and Qatari markets.

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According to Thinus Pretorius, chairperson of Namibia’s Livestock Producers’ Organisation, the exports to those countries specifically targeted producers in the Northern Communal Area (NCA). The communal farmers in the NCA ran a collective herd estimated at between 1,2 million and 1,4 million cattle.

Namibia was a net exporter of red meat and already exported to, among others, the US, China and Norway, but these cattle and sheep were produced south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence.

The first consignment to the Middle East from the NCA was, at the time of going to print, already on its way.

“These exports would obviously add markedly to our country’s economy and the sustainability and profitability of red meat production in the communal areas. It would play an immense role in the growth of local economies,” Pretorius told Farmer’s Weekly.

The NCAs cover parts of the Kunene, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi regions. According to a factsheet published by the Namibia University of Science and Technology, communal land was one of the land tenure systems in Namibia, the other being the freehold land tenure system.

At independence in 1990, Namibia resolved to retain communal land on the basis that the majority of the population derived their livelihoods from it. The majority of the Namibian population still lived in communal areas.

Aquaculture programme aims to counter unemployment in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe had so far stocked 37 dams with fish countrywide as part of its multi-million-rand aquaculture programme that was announced in 2022.

Aquaculture programme aims to counter unemployment in Zimbabwe
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The dams are situated in the provinces of Matabeleland South, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Masvingo.

The Zimbabwe government embarked on the programme in order to address food insecurity and unemployment, and to create avenues of income generation.

According to an article published by, the programme was implemented in 2022 by that country’s agriculture ministry through its fisheries and aquaculture resources production department. The target is to establish 1 200 stocked dams in the countryside over five years.

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According to the article, Zimbabwe currently faces fish shortages, forcing imports from neighbouring countries. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency recently reported that the rural population in Zimbabwe accounted for 68% of annual fish consumption in both volume and value, while the urban community made up 32% of the annual expenditure on fish consumption.

According to a fact sheet published by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the fishery sector in Zimbabwe exploited about 114 indigenous fish species and an additional 30 exotic species, which were introduced for aquaculture production. However, only the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) had made a significant contribution to fish production in that country.

Farmer’s Weekly reported in November 2022 on a strategy that would see a nearly threefold increase of farmed Nile tilapia in Zimbabwe. That strategy was supported by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States. Production was foreseen to increase from the current 5 600t/year to 14 000t/ year in 2032.

As part of the aquaculture programme, tilapia fingerlings are to be released into community dams. The programme is funded by the Zimbabwean government, supported by the EU and with the FAO providing technical assistance.

“To this end, government has taken a number of initiatives to develop the fisheries and aquaculture industry. Currently, the flagship programme is the presidential community fisheries scheme that was launched at Muchekeranwa Dam near Marondera,” said Milton Makumbe, director in the Zimbabwean Ministry of Agriculture’s department of fisheries and aquaculture resources.

Namibia’s Meatco expects a profitable year

The Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) expected a significant turnaround for the financial year running from February 2023 to January 2024.

Namibia’s Meatco expects a profitable year
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Meatco ascribed the expectation to the high number of cattle sent for slaughter in that country at the moment.

Meatco said in a statement that should the trend continue, it was likely that it could to lead to a consolidated recovery year. The company performed favourably in May and June by generating around N$107 million (about R106 million) and N$190 million (R188 million) in revenue respectively.

Farmer’s Weekly previously reported on complaints by Namibia’s beef cattle producers about late payments from Meatco, as well as the dire financial state the company found itself in.

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Meatco in the meanwhile said it “aims to accomplish its commitment of paying producers on time while managing and paying suppliers to ultimately maximise returns from the lucrative niche markets where we market our premium meat products”.

According to the Meat Board of Namibia, during the second quarter of 2023, livestock and meat marketing rebounded. This was mainly driven by the increase in beef exports. The number of cattle marketed increased from 78 212 head for an increase of 8% over the number of cattle marketed during the second quarter of last year.

Meatco slaughtered a total of 38 401 animals, with 2 079 slaughtered from the Northern Communal Area (NCA) and 36 322 from the area south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (SVCF) as of end July 2023.

For April, an average cattle weight of 251,64kg was recorded, with an average price of R60,24/kg paid to producers, whereas in May the weight was 253,22kg, with R59,67/kg the average price paid for the month. For June, the average slaughter weight was 253,63kg, while the average price was R60,13/kg. Meatco has budgeted to slaughter 50 000 animals from the SVCF and 10 000 from the NVCF for the 2023/24 financial year.

Namibian organised agricultural structures, including the Livestock Producers’ Organisation, the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers‘ Union and the Namibia National Farmers‘ Union met with the Cabinet earlier this month to discuss the issue of late payments.

A final recommendation by the Ministry of Finance was awaited, according to a statement by the Namibia Agricultural Union.

Botswana’s citrus harvest set for huge increase

Botswana’s first mega citrus project with around 800 000 citrus trees is expecting its first harvest in January next year.

Botswana’s citrus harvest set for huge increase
Botswana farmers are expecting an abundance of citrus trees ready for their harvest in 2024
Photo: Unsplash
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Giving an update on the Selebe-Phikwe Citrus project, company CEO Johan Janse van Vuuren last month said the plantation situated in the Central District comprised 811 000 citrus trees, and added that the farm was expected to produce fruit for target markets including China, the US and Europe.

In a recent statement, the company said the project would be one of the largest consolidated citrus developments in Southern Africa.

“Intended as a flagship horticultural project for Botswana, it will provide a source of employment for up to 1 500 people (permanent and seasonal). In addition, it will bring indirect benefits to the local economy, such as increased economic activity and food supply,” the company said.

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The company noted that the orchard, situated on a 1 500ha site, was expected to produce a range of citrus cultivars, including mandarins, Valencias, lemons and grapefruit.

“Leasing rights for the land have been secured for 83 years, and water rights have been allocated from the Letsibogo Dam. Despite the long-term nature of the investment, it is forecast to deliver strong returns to investors,” the statement said.

The citrus project marked a significant milestone as Botswana’s first commercial agriculture development catering to the demands of global markets for fresh produce.

“Our production will cultivate a diverse range of citrus fruit that will be marketed and exported to international markets,” the company said.

Botswana’s deputy minister of agriculture, Molebatsi Molebatsi, recently indicated that the Botswana government supported the citrus project, as it was in harmony with the government’s strategy to increase foreign direct investment and build an export-led economy.

“The project is expected to bring in foreign investment valued around P500 million (about R680 million) and support the type of economy that we want as government,” Molebatsi said.

In a recent update regarding citrus farming in the country, the Department of Agriculture indicated that the government had reserved 10 000ha of land suitable for citrus farming and added that this was expected to stimulate citrus production.

An extension officer from the department, Oarabile Letsatsi, said the current supply of citrus in Botswana was lower than demand, and therefore three quarters of the citrus consumed in the country was imported.

She added that supply of citrus in the country was expected to increase following an increase in the number of citrus farming projects.

Carryover stocks ease concerns over Zambia’s lower maize crop

Zambia’s 2022/23 maize harvest is expected to be 25,2% lower than last year’s. The crop has been forecast at 2,7 million tons, compared with 3,62 million tons recorded in 2021/2022.

Carryover stocks ease concerns over Zambia’s lower maize crop
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The country’s minister of agriculture, Reuben Phiri, ascribed the drop to a decline in the area planted from 1,69 million hectares last season to 1,51 million hectares this season.

“This is coupled with a reduction in yield from 2,14t/ha last season to 1,8t/ha during the period under review,” he told Food Business Africa.

READ Zimbabwe sells record of 261 million kilograms of tobacco

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Phiri said the country’s small- and medium-scale farming households were expected to contribute 96% of this year’s harvest, with large-scale farmers making up the rest.

According to him, Zambia would remain food-secure, as the total carryover stocks held by farmers, millers, grain traders and the country’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) had stood at 1,5 million tons on 1 May 2022.

The FRA was established to ensure a reliable supply of designated agricultural commodities, meet local shortfalls, and stabilise prices.

According to, the FRA’s goal is to complete the value chain by providing market access to small- scale farmers in rural areas. It is also responsible for the management of food emergencies caused by natural disasters.

“The total available maize supply in the 2022/23 agricultural marketing season is 4,21 million tons, sufficient to meet the estimated local demand of three million tons,” Phiri added.

The retail price for maize in Zambia on 26 June 2023 hovered between R7,46/kg and R9,91/kg.

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape.
Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business.
Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds.
She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.

Zimbabwe sells record of 261 million kilograms of tobacco

Zimbabwe has recorded its best tobacco season yet on record, having sold at least 261 million kilograms so far in the 2023 marketing season.

Zimbabwe sells record of 261 million kilograms of tobacco
Zimbabwean farmers have sold a record of 261 million kilograms of tobacco so far in 2023
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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During a post-cabinet briefing, acting information minister Jenfan Muswere said the bulk of tobacco production in Zimbabwe came from small-scale farmers.

“Zimbabwe has recorded the highest tobacco production in its history. The country’s tobacco output in the ongoing 2023 marketing season now stands at 261 million kilograms, surpassing the previous record of 259 million kilograms,” he told TimesLIVE.

“This is [against] the backdrop of the fact that 85% of the tobacco is being produced by smallholder farmers, 60% of whom are beneficiaries of the land reform programme, demonstrating that government policies in the agriculture sector are sound and continue to bear fruit,” Muswere continued.

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The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), the industry’s regulator, announced that sales increased 54,72% from the same period in 2022. A total of R14,42 billion had been realised thus far in 2023.

The country’s 2023 tobacco marketing season at the auction floors, which opened in March, was expected to run until August. Zimbabwe aimed to increase its tobacco output to 300 million kilograms by 2025.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Situation news service reported that small-scale farmers in the country were selling their crop mostly to China, and were “heavily indebted”. They were also seeing minimal benefits. This was reportedly because of a contract system that locked the farmers into negative loans and prices, often with Chinese companies operating under the state-owned China National Tobacco Corporation, the largest cigarette maker in the world.

According to Reuters, tobacco was one of the biggest export earners for Zimbabwe, which was hoping to increase production to 300 million kilograms by 2025. Its output peaked at 261 million kilograms in 2019.

After the collapse of commercial agriculture following the government’s seizure of land from commercial farmers in 2000, tobacco has emerged as the industry’s most successful sub-sector.

In 2023, the area planted to tobacco reached 117 000ha, up from the 110 000ha planted in 2022. The country currently has 148 527 tobacco farmers.

Zimbabwean exemption permits extended again

-Holders of Zimbabwean exemption permits have been urged to get their visas in order if they want to stay in South Africa after December.

Zimbabwean exemption permits extended again
Holders of Zimbabwean exemption permits have been urged to get their visas in order if they want to stay in South Africa after December.
Photo: FW Archive
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This comes after the Department of Home Affairs extended the validity of exemption permits from the end of June until 31 December 2023, due an influx of up to 1 500 visa and waiver applications a day from affected Zimbabweans since the start of June.

Christo van der Rheede, CEO of Agri SA, said the organisation welcomed the extension, as South African farmers were heavily dependent on foreign labourers. This was no different to the US, which sourced workers from Mexico and even South Africa, and the EU, which employed workers from North Africa.

“These foreigners are not threatening South African employment opportunities, but rather filling in spots where there’s a shortage of local labour. By doing this, they’re making a valuable contribution to South Africa’s economy. We feel that government should make it easier for them to stay in the country,” Van der Rheede said.

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According to Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence, merely 5,3% of people working across the country were foreign-born, and in 2017 Statistics South Africa recorded only 94 481 out of 810 000 workers in the agriculture sector as migrants.

In addition, the majority of skilled agricultural workers had been found to work and live in the province in which they were born, with local employees filling most high-paying jobs, such as packhouse workers, farm supervisors, managers and foremen. Foreigners occupied mainly labour-intensive jobs at the primary production level.

According to Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence, Zimbabwean exemption permit holders needed to apply in person for visas to extend their stay in South Africa. Alternatively, farmers could apply for corporate visas to help these Zimbabweans remain in the country, but this had long been a point of frustration for farmers, as job applicants had to prove they were not depriving local workers from filling positions.

Kobedi Pilane, CEO of the African Poultry Producer chapter of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, also welcomed the extension, saying: “It’s better to take a cautious approach to ensure that nobody who should get a visa to stay is overlooked.”

He agreed that foreigners were making a valuable contribution to South Africa’s agriculture sector, but added that they needed to be in the country legally in order to prevent their exploitation, which could result in their doing jobs that could have been filled by South Africans.

“South Africa has such a high unemployment rate; we should only source foreign workers if local talent is unavailable. And when employing foreigners, they should enjoy the same benefits and income as their local counterparts,” Pilane said.

US aid strengthens Zimbabwe’s food security

The US$8,7 million (about R169 million) that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently contributed to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Zimbabwe came at a perilous time in that country, the WFP said in a statement.

US aid strengthens Zimbabwe’s food security
The US recently donated about R169 million to the World Food Programme to help improve food security in Zimbabwe.
Photo: Annelie Coleman
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The funds were earmarked to power the WFP’s resilience-building activities for more than 65 000 people in five food-insecure communities for the next six months.

It would be used to provide participants under the WFP’s Food Assistance for Assets activities with food assistance in return for work, support the creation or rehabilitation of small-scale farming infrastructure, village savings and lending groups, as well as provide training on business management in the Kariba, Masvingo, Mwenezi, Rushinga and Zvishavane districts.

“Our longstanding funding for the programme demonstrates the US government’s commitment to tackling food insecurity in Zimbabwe,” said Ramses Gauthier, USAID’s acting mission director in Zimbabwe.

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Under the initiative, which was designed to meet immediate food needs through food distributions while investing in productive assets, participants received monthly food allotments consisting of maize meal, pulses and cooking oil for the duration of the work while the entire community benefitted from the completed projects.

According to the WFP, the US’s support came at a critical time when farmers across the country were harvesting their cereals.

Although the country had received good rains this agricultural season, many families still faced food insecurity. Some smallholder farmers lived hand-to-mouth due to the cumulative effects of droughts, insufficient livelihood opportunities, and economic shocks.

Since 2011, more than 1,2 million people in 30 Zimbabwean districts had benefitted from WFP-supported productive assets. The WFP created approximately 400 small dams and 80 irrigation systems, helped establish 520ha of vegetable gardens, and drilled more than 60 mostly solar-powered boreholes.

The international Famine Early Warning Systems Network reported that harvests from the 2021/22 agricultural season improved food security outcomes across parts of Zimbabwe, particularly in typical surplus-producing areas. However, this was likely to be marginal and short-lived in the worst-affected areas in the east, south, west and extreme north-east.

The 2021/22 rainfall season was characterised by erratic and poorly distributed rainfall, including a late onset of excessive rains in January 2023. Some of the worst-affected areas in the east and south reported upwards of 80% write-offs of cereal crops, with some households harvesting nothing.