By Albert Makendenge
Horticulture is the agricultural science that deals with the study of vegetables, flowers, landscape architecture and crops like spices and other plantation crops and their crops and marketing. The discipline, whose main branches include pomology, viticulture, olericulture, oenology as well as floriculture, is concerned with cultivating plants for human consumption but also for medical purposes or simply for aesthetic pleasure.
Horticulture is a fast growing and major subsector of the agricultural industry in Zimbabwe and its contribution towards both small scale and large scale incomes, employment, foreign exchange earnings and food production security cannot be overemphasized. It ranks behind tobacco, cattle production (beef and dairy), maize, cotton and sugarcane as the country’s fifth largest agricultural export earner, contributing 6.5 percent to the agricultural Gross Domestic Product. Due to the perishable nature of horticultural crops and limited access to cold chain logistics, production is mainly conducted close to major urban centers and along roads connected to urban settlements both at large and small scale. Large volumes of fresh fruits and vegetables are produced for sale on both the export market and the formal and informal domestic markets. The export market is largely supplied by the large scale commercial producers while the domestic market is supplied by all levels of the agricultural industry from multinational corporations to individual communal farmers.
The list products of products available is endless here in Zimbabwe for the fruits and vegetables sector and it includes asparagus, baby carrots, baby corn, chillies and peppers, tomatoes, sugar snaps, sweet corn, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, nectarines, plums and pears. Farmers across the country can surely pick one or two plants to specialize in and be well on their way to a greater sense of accomplishment and even greater financial benefits from the increasingly booming sector.