Huge export potential for nyimo / indlubu


Sunday mail

Focus on trade

Allan Majuru

NYIMO / INDLUBU, also known as Bambara beans / nuts, has been a part of Zimbabwe’s delicacy for generations.

It’s a good source of protein, easy to prepare, and typically consumed for breakfast or lunch by millions of people across the country.

Additionally, bambara beans are not complicated to grow and can perform well in many soils, making it possible to grow in regions with natural rainfall or in dry areas.

This is a product that most communities can easily develop, and they understand most of the production processes needed to boost production.

What is exciting, however, is not only the valuable history Zimbabwe has with the product, but also the potential to earn millions in export markets as demand for the product is expected to increase in the world. world.

Given the current will of the Second Republic to promote the cultivation of indigenous and drought tolerant crops that can yield good results under harsh conditions, increased production of export-oriented bambara beans will open up the export access for rural communities, which in turn will improve the agricultural sector’s contribution to national exports.

In addition to meeting global demand, bambara beans can provide sustainable income to rural communities, especially those who have not experienced promising maize crops due to increased climate variability.

In addition, bambara beans can provide solutions to improve the country’s food and nutrition security, as well as generate income for rural communities through improved exports.

To improve income generation for rural communities, ZimTrade – the national trade development and promotion organization – works with Welthungerhilfe and Empretec to improve competitiveness and export potential in inclusive value chains that are commonly referred to as “pro-poor” value chains.

The Strengthening Competitiveness and Export Potential for Inclusive Value Chains in Zimbabwe (SCOPE4IVC) 2020-2023 project targets bambara, marula and chilli products.

Here, ZimTrade and its partners will enhance the capacities of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to meet the export requirements of Bambara nuts, marula and chili to the European Union and other markets.

The project contributes to the key result area of ​​export product diversification covered by the National Export Strategy, launched by President Mnangagwa in 2019.

The product

Bambara bean, also known as vigna subterranean, is a legume primarily grown by subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is said to be the third most important legume in semi-arid Africa after peanuts and cowpeas.
Nuts can be eaten fresh as snacks by boiling or roasting them, but they can also be dried.

Dried bean can also be ground and sifted to produce flour which can be used to make bread, cakes, or dumplings.

Bambara beans are related to cowpeas and can be used for both human and animal consumption.
The product is resistant to high temperatures, making the crop suitable for marginal soils where other legume crops cannot be grown.

In most cases, the product is considered a low impact crop, making it one of the high potential products for areas receiving below normal rainfall. Most bambara bean varieties take 3 to 6 months to mature, depending on the climate.

The crop can be grown in sandy loam soils and is easier to harvest in well-drained soils.
In Zimbabwe the fast growing bambara bean is combined with maize and cowpea or even planted as a single crop.

Potential markets for bambara beans

The current global market for dried bambara beans is still small, but with growth potential.
According to Trade Map, the global import bill for the product was only US $ 1.7 million in 2020, compared to US $ 1.23 million in 2019.

What this figure shows is that countries that are rapidly increasing their exports right now are likely to have the largest share when the market expands.

Although Zimbabwe’s exports of the product are still low, the current market share indicates that the country has the potential to capture a much larger market.

Currently, the main importing countries of the product are Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States, Chile, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

From these markets Zimbabwe already has trade relations with most of them and has even easier access to South Africa, which is the second largest importer of Bambara beans in the world.

Europe is expected to offer a relatively stable market for Bambara beans and producers must ensure they meet the standards and volumes required given the growing interest of European consumers in exotic cuisines.

There is great potential for Zimbabwean producers to target the markets of Italy, the UK and the Netherlands.

To export Bambara beans to Europe, it is always important that exporters adhere to strict food safety rules and obligations.

General food law that regulates food safety in the European Union also applies to dry beans.
Exporters must ensure that the beans are traceable and that systems like HACCP are in place.

For African markets such as South Africa, local exporters can take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area or regional trade agreements such as the SADC Trade Protocol to take advantage of low tariffs.
Consumption in Asian countries is expected to increase thus creating more market alternatives and Zimbabwean farmers are also encouraged to consider tapping into these markets.

Consolidation will improve market access

In most cases, there are challenges associated with producing the crop commercially, making it ideal for small farmers looking to be integrated into export activities.
However, since the export business is a numbers game, potential exporters will need to consider consolidation in order to meet minimum order requirements.

In this way, farmers will ensure that the little they produce can find its way to export markets and sustain demand for longer periods.

To achieve this, concerted efforts must be made to integrate group cohesion and embark on aggregation so that smallholder farmers and smallholder farmers can exploit lucrative export destinations.

Consolidation and aggregation will increase their export volumes, reduce the cost of freight and improve the competitiveness of bambara beans grown in Zimbabwe in export markets.

Currently, ZimTrade is implementing a best model farm approach, working with selected exporting farms to engage smallholder farmers in the production of high value crops such as flowers, peas and fine beans.

A similar arrangement can be developed, focusing on small bambara bean producers, which will unlock their access to export markets.

Lessons can also be learned from the current national garlic project which focuses on integrating rural communities into garlic export activities.

This episode was first released on July 18, 2021 and has been reposted due to public demand.


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