Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) is working with beverages manufacturer, Schweppes Zimbabwe to start a horticulture out-growers scheme for the production of produce that will input into the imminent fruit processing and canning plant at Esigodini, Matabeleland South Province.
Speaking at a Matabeleland South Investment Conference in Gwanda on Wednesday last week, Arda board chairperson Mr Basil Nyabadza said plans to roll out citrus fruits and horticultural crops out-growers scheme aimed at supplying were already underway.
He also said most of the manufacturing equipment for the processing and canning plant was already on site.
“About 70 percent of the equipment is already in the factory. We need to bring in 30 percent of the balance — partly due to technology. All being well the plan was that by September-October we should complete the importation of the balance of that plant and start an out-grower programme,” said Mr Nyabadza.
The out-grower programme would see the production of various citrus fruits and vegetables.
“We also need to start with an out-grower programme — to grow mangoes, guavas, tomatoes, potatoes, butter-nuts among other fruits and vegetables.
Timing of the crops is important, once we are sure of the timetable of when we can bring (remaining equipment) and commence then the timing of production will be related to that.
“The issue of plantations is going to be done this year without a doubt because that will take some time . . . I believe we have some trees for planting now, it’s a question of logistics to bring them here . . . certainly we will do something before (July) elections and it will carry on during the post election period but definitely some plantations will take place this year,” said Mr Nyabadza.
The tomato processing and canning factory is a public-private partnership arrangement between Zagrinda, a company owned by Arda and Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) and a division of Schweppes Zimbabwe, Best Fruit Processors.
Mr Nyabadza also said plans were underway to expand a citrus production project in Beitbridge.
“We have got a vibrant citrus position in this part of the country, in Beitbridge that can be expanded. There are efforts we are looking at with our partners Schweppes to expand our horticulture products,” he said.@DNsingo