Martin Kadzere Business Reporter
NEWLY established fruit processing firm Best Fruit Processors says it expects to process 20 000 tonnes of fruit this year at its Norton plant with revenue projected at $4,6 million.
Best Fruit Processors is a joint venture between Schweppes Zimbabwe’s 100 percent owned Beit-Bridge Juicing Co and the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority.
Last week, the company started test production of mango juice at the Norton facility, about three years after it stopped operations due to working capital constraints.
“Phase one is now complete and BFP is able to process mangoes and guavas” general manager Mr Smart Zongololo said. “Phase two will see the completion of repairs and maintenance (works) and (the exercise) is expected to be completed in March 2016.
“After phase two repairs, the company will start processing tomatoes, citrus and passion fruit.”
He said the overall market share for the business was expected to grow in the next five years, largely driven by exports, which would contribute 88 percent of revenue by 2021.
Mr Zongololo said BFP was already processing mangoes into mango puree until end of January.
He said engineers from Bertuzzi of Italy would be in the country soon for phase 2 repairs and maintenance in preparation for tomato production. Already the company is nursing tomato seeds, whose seedlings will be ready for transplanting by end of this month.
BFP is targeting to process 100 tonnes of tomatoes per day.
The company will also run an out-grower programme of about 3 000 farmers at peak during the first year of production.
A number of irrigation schemes and small scale holders in areas such as Mamina, Seke, Chinamora, Zvimba have already been engaged for tomato growing. On other fruits, Mr Zongololo said the company is already working with farmer groups to set up mango, guava, oranges, lemon, naartjies and passion plantations to complement existing plantations.
In partnership with Arda, the company target to develop 300 hectares of tomatoes, 200ha of oranges and 200ha of mangos at Arda Sanyati Estate. At Arda Nijo Estate, 40ha of passion fruit will be established.
BFP, through an arrangement with participating banks, will be assisting contracted farmers with inputs such as appropriate variety seeds and seedlings, chemicals and fertilisers.
BFP agronomists and inputs strategic partners will offer technical support to guarantee farmer success.
The company plans to spend about $2 million this year on plant upgrade and working capital to support the Norton plant, Mr Zongololo said.