Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
GOVERNMENT is partnering the private sector to set up an outgrower scheme for pineapple farmers in Manicaland to boost production of the fruit that will be processed locally.
Manicaland provincial administrator Mr Edgar Seenza told The Herald that Associated Foods Zimbabwe (AFZ) had been importing pineapples following an agreement between the governments of Zimbabwe and Mozambique in June to allow agricultural produce to be transported into Manicaland for value addition.
“Zimbabwean farmers have not been able to meet demand for pineapples, but we found that Mozambique had an abundance of them and a limited market,” he said. “Since the agreement we made with Mozambique, we have imported more than 40 tonnes of pineapples and we will continue to import until we are self-sufficient.
“The pineapples are transported to the plant in Vumba for canning. But in the meantime, we are planning to establish an outgrower scheme in Rusitu and other areas that have excellent conditions for the fruit to thrive.”
Farmers in Chimanimani have been growing pineapples on a small scale, but have been forced to sell at low prices with little to no value addition because the fruit is perishable.
Mr Seenza said the outgrower scheme would help local farmers with a ready market for their produce, as well as reduce the country’s import bill. He said the scheme would be funded by AFZ.
The company produces peanut butter, jam spreads, as well as canned tomatoes and fruits and nut savouries.
Manicaland province and Mozambique’s Manica province have been working on ways of enhancing cooperation at the economic and political level, which has seen the setting up of technical committees that come up with terms of reference and action plans on possible areas of cooperation.
Areas of interest include horticulture, transport infrastructure (roads, rail and airports), environment and tourism.