ZIMBABWEAN companies, small businesses and farmers are well positioned to enjoy the opportunities offered in the fast growing organic food market, says Switzerland Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, Ambassador Niculin Jager.
Speaking at the officially opening of Organic Africa’s new Southern Africa’s Herbal Tea Factory in Penhalonga just outside Mutare yesterday (Thursday), Ambassador Jager said businesses focusing on the niche of organic food have a brighter future.
“Currently, they are very encouraging initiatives here in Manicaland that are aiding local farmers to access the Swiss market with organic coffee through the Nespresso/Nestlé Reviving Origins Programme.
“The project is not only putting Zimbabwe coffee farmers back on track after years of suppressed production, but is providing evidence that the country has vast potential in supplying the export sector with high quality produce.
“Swiss companies in all fields of investment typically have a longer-term perspective when engaging in any sector, including those in the organic food and beverage sectors,” said Ambassador Jager.
He said the global organic tea market size has grown remarkably in the past decade and is projected to become a billion dollar market in the next five years.
“In general, organic products are gaining popularity as mainstream products among many consumers worldwide.
“Switzerland has one of the highest consumption per capita of organic food in the world.
“According to the Federal Office for Agriculture, in 2019 one in 10 fresh food items sold in Switzerland was organic. In sales, the Swiss organic food market has grown by over nine percent per year over the past decade. The total value of organic food sold in Switzerland rose from CHF1,3 billion in 2007 to CHF3,24 billion in 2019,” he said.
Ambassador Jager said the inauguration of the regional herbal tea factory was confirmation from Organic Africa and the Swiss investors, that within the whole of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe continues to be one the most attractive country — for organic investment and offers great potential for the future.
“This investment is good news and I think the decision is absolutely right. It is a compliment in particular to the spirit of beneficiation and decentralisation of development in Zimbabwe and especially here in Manicaland, whose infrastructure, traditions and people offer such a promising environment for substantial new manufacturing exercise,” he said.
He called for long-term binding agreements between local entities and foreign investors in order to get a maximum return on investment.
“I am glad that my country already has an International Cooperation Agreement on Humanitarian Aid and Technical and Financial Cooperation with Zimbabwe signed in 2017 meant to strengthen our cooperation in various sectors.
“Furthermore, Swiss companies are almost always invested in a stable partnership that usually see local companies and communities anchoring themselves in high value-added manufacturing, adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and value addition as is the case with Kaza Natural Oils and Bayoba — the two Swiss investors partnering Organic Africa in this project,” he said.
Kaza Natural Oils and Bayoba have been concentrating on wild collection of indigenous, underutilised products for a long time and have thus amassed valuable knowledge and commitment that can be very helpful in supporting the commercial development of underutilised indigenous plants in Zimbabwe.