Sharon Chigeza Mutare Correspondent|
The National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ) has partnered a local firm in Manicaland to produce organically grown herbs and spices for export to readily available European markets.

NTZ in partnership with La Rochelle Organics is running three farms in the province that are producing the herbs and spices.

NTZ chairman Mr David Scott said the agricultural project was going to improve livelihoods and generate foreign currency.

“NTZ which is incorporated in terms of an Act of Zimbabwe’s Parliament is the only formal National Trust in Africa and is the landlord of the La Rochelle property.

“The property has been leased to an independent Zimbabwe registered company that is committed to protecting the site for future generations,” he said.

“However, the property needed more than just a hotel operation and so the tenant has invested and commissioned organic agriculture activities on the open spaces and also rented some farms in the area.

“The intentions are to develop a training centre of excellence in organic  farming.

“Initially the programme is aimed at the local/provincial farmers with the aim of uplifting their standards of farming and therefore improving their incomes and standards of living.

“The centre will then expand its offerings to the region and then on to sub-Saharan Africa. The trainees will have practical training with herb crops and also attend classroom lessons.”

La Rochelle Organics managing director Mr Kevin Martin said the establishment of the farms was aimed at creating employment for local farmers in Odzi as well as generate foreign currency through exports.

“La Rochelle has three farms in Manicaland, namely La Rochelle, Ndemera and Kelly’s Park and currently has 130 hectares under production. The organics section has been well established over the past two years contracting over 300 local workers on the farms.

“The aim was to create employment for the locals from the surrounding rural areas, develop the community’s infrastructure as well as the generation of foreign currency through production and export of high quality herbal crops.

“The herbs grown on the farm are organically grown meaning we only use organic manure as a measure of sustainability which is holistic and benefiting to the environment,” he said.

The main herbs grown at the farms are mint, thyme and chilli with developing trials on other varieties such as stinging nettle and Melissa.

“With proper support, training, quality controls, simple technology and investment, Zimbabwe can easily tap into the vast opportunities that exist in the spice industry,” said Mr Martin.

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