Pineapple growers target international markets

Tariro Stacey Gatsi

BUOYED by the recent 15 percent growth in production between the 2021/22 and 2022/23 growing seasons, pineapple producers in Manicaland have embraced Government’s call to tap into lucrative markets and are now eyeing international export markets.

This comes as the Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment report 2 for the 2022/23 summer season that was released by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development hinted at an overall increase in production of horticultural crops for the 2022/2023 season.

The report revealed that there was a peak in terms of pineapple production by 15 percent from 9, 646 in 2021/22 to 11, 070 in 2022/23.

Operating under the umbrella of the Rusitu Valley Fruit Growers and Marketing Trust (RVFGMT), Ndiyadzo Pineapple Growers have established themselves as a reliable source of premium pineapples.

RVFGMT, Chipinge, Administrator Mr Dudzai Ndiadzwa said a collective of over 800 dedicated rural smallholder farmers was making waves in the agricultural industry with their top-quality pineapples.

Mr Ndiadzwa added that with the support of the national trade development and promotion organisation (ZimTrade), the group consolidated their produce for distribution to various markets. Greenstone, a trusted consolidator, handles the collection and distribution of the fresh pineapples.

“Renowned for their high-quality pineapples, the group aims to increase their production and are on a mission to contribute to the growth of the economy while satisfying the demands of local and international markets,” said Mr Ndiadzwa.

To demonstrate their commitment to sustainable agriculture, RVFGMT have obtained organic certification, allowing them to penetrate more markets and cater to the increasing demand for organic product.

Mr Ndiadzwa also explained that RVFGMT currently had the capacity to produce 70 tonnes of pineapples per season. The farmers are, however, targeting an annual production figure of 960 tonnes for the export market.

The RVFGMT group is also optimistic they will benefit from the projected rising demand in export markets over the next five years and to further enhance the appeal of their product, they are actively pursuing Global GAP certification.

In line with the push to revitalise the agro-processing industry through sustained agricultural production, the group is committed to contributing to the country’s economic growth while ensuring their operations remain profitability.

Mr Ndiadzwa also appreciated the fact that pineapples are tropical fruits that require warm temperatures, adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, and regular watering for optimal growth, hence their ability to do well in Chipinge.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Trade Map are showing that pineapples have been a missed opportunity for some time in Zimbabwe, with global trade reaching US$2, 5 billion in 2016.

Also, the European Union (EU) was by far the biggest consumer importing US$1, 1 billion in 2016, while within the EU, the Netherlands imported US$171 million worth of pineapples.

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