Meikles Africa, a diversified company that jointly owns TM Supermarkets with South Africa’s Pick n Pay, is expanding its agribusiness unit, Tanganda Tea Estates in the Chipinge district of Manicaland, revealing ambitious plans to grow coffee, macadamias and avocados in the Eastern Highlands region of the country.In an update this week, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firm said it had also formed Meikles Centre Mining which will explore and develop gold, tantalite and iron-ore properties in the country.
The company, which is already growing 2 600 hectares of tea, said it was putting 700 hectares under macadamia, 400 hectares under coffee and 500 hectares under avocado. The new project aims “to create even more work and revenue opportunities for the people in Chipinge area and add greatly to the foreign currency earnings of Zimbabwe.”
Like most agribusinesses in the country, including Triangle Sugar Corporation and British American Tobacco Zimbabwe, Tanganda also boasts of an extensive network of out growers.
“We have in excess of 1 500 out growers right now. The out growers provide their land and do all the required land preparation and buy tea seedlings from Tanganda at a subsidized rate,” it said.
“We provide fertiliser and other chemicals for which the out grower pays from the proceeds of his crop. Our out grower manager and his two extension officers visit the various farmers at least once a month providing guidance and advice which they do not pay for.”
The company added that it sends tractors to collect the reaped crop at a reduced charge and then pays for the crop and processes it.
Meikles Africa also said Tanganda was the largest employer in the Chipinge district, employing an excess of 4 000 people at peak season and their wages went back into the community.
“We ensure uninterrupted electricity supply by prepaying our Zesa bills and this enables a vast part of the Chipinge district to benefit. Tanganda plays an important role in maintaining public roads which benefits many people and furthermore we provide our trucks to transport people to important public events in the area.
“The five clinics on our Estates play a significant part in the lives of our workers and the surrounding communities as they are open to anyone needing medical care.
Meikles Africa, whose other ventures include city and resort hotels, supermarkets and departmental stores, said earlier this month that it achieved an after-tax profit of $6,5 million in the year to the end of March this year, compared to a loss of $3,4 million in the comparative period the prior year. —New Ziana