Raw commodity exports cost Zim forex, jobs
By Edward Mukaro
STAKEHOLDERS in the agriculture sector have been implored to prioritize value addition of produce so as to retain value to the country in the form of increased employment and value.
Addressing delegates during the announcement of additional board members to agricultural parastatal boards, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka said the nation has potential to create an upward of a million jobs, a feat that can be achieved if exportation of produce is in its raw state is limited, as the nation marches towards attaining Vision 2030.
“Each time we export raw products, we are exporting jobs, we are exporting value.
“We must ensure we increase employment in the agricultural space and agriculture has the potential to employ many more people, and I think an upwards of a million people in a structured, ethical, professionally run sector, we will be able to do more.
“But more importantly, agriculture can uplift 70 percent of Zimbabweans that daily eke a living from agriculture so that they too do not become participants, but become major player s in the upliftment of our country and they participate in Vision 2030,” said Dr Masuka.
He added that agriculture is at the centre of transformation that the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) seeks.
Speaking in an interview with The BusinessConnect Renowned agriculture economist, Berean Mukwende concurred with Dr Masuka, citing exportation of raw materials only benefit downstream industries.
“For commodities like tobacco, cotton, in terms of downstream industries, we are losing.
“In terms of value of commodities, the one who gets the raw material gets a larger chunk of profit than producers. Value is on processing. Look at the clothing industry. We end up importing clothing; hence, the loss is huge.
“Cotton is exported as lint so could be over 100 – 200% (loss) or even more.
“We need to create employment. By value addition we will create more employment, bring forex. There is need to diversify in terms of commodities,” said Mukwende.
According to the Observatory Economic Complexity (OEC), in 2019, Zimbabwe exported US$438 million in Raw Tobacco, making it the 7th largest exporter of raw tobacco, in the world. During the same year, raw tobacco was the second most exported product in Zimbabwe.
Other commodities exported in their raw state include sugar with an estimated value of US$94.6 million and cotton (US$51.7m).