Smallholder farmers  strike lucrative deals Groundnuts

Manicaland Bureau

FIFTY smallholder farmers in Mutare District have struck lucrative deals with two local companies for value addition of groundnuts, which is driving development and improving their livelihoods.

The farmers, operating under Bvirindi Groundnuts Association are shelling groundnuts for a food processing firm- Associated Foods Zimbabwe and Golden Foods as well as for other farmers in the communities surrounding them.

The association benefited from the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LSFP) run by Practical Action and other partners and acquired various value addition machines.

The LSFP is part of the Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Production for Increased Resilience and Economic growth (INSPIRE) project funded by the UK’s Department of International Development and managed by the FAO and aims to improve agricultural productivity, access to markets and nutrition in Makoni, Mutasa and Mutare rural districts.

Bvirindi Groundnuts Association chairman Mr Fungai Nyatsanza said the INSPIRE project was changing the lives of the farmers and contributing to the development of the community.

“When we started this group, there were 63 members and we were just growing groundnuts and selling them but when LFSP came on board, we got assistance to purchase a thrashing machine, a roaster and a peanut butter processing machine. With these machines, we started offering value addition services to other farmers and eventually we got a deal from Associated Foods and Golden Foods,” he said.

He said they had shelled 10 tonnes of groundnuts for Associated Foods last season while Golden Foods had so far brought in 769kgs. Golden Foods is in the process of purchasing more groundnuts from local farmers which they intend to give to BGA for value addition.

Mr Nyatsanza said the shift to value addition had changed the association’s fortunes and empowered them to acquire land where they were building a hub, which will house their machines.

“We are the only ones with a shelling machine in this area so all other farmers are coming here to shell their groundnuts and to process peanut butter. Our services have made life easier for locals because many cannot travel to Mutare to have their groundnuts processed into peanut butter so it is bringing business to us while making it cheaper for them,” he said

Besides the benefit from the value addition business, the association members have received training on the best seed varieties for a better yield and how to grow groundnuts sustainably.

Bvirindi Groundnut association secretary Mrs Patience Muusha said they were producing a better crop now than they were doing in the past.

“Inspire has not only empowered us with machines for value addition, we are also getting the relevant knowledge on how to grow groundnuts.

“We have learnt the best groundnut varieties to grow, how to prevent diseases, harvesting and storage of the crop. We are now growing our crops more professionally and we are not just producing for household food security but we have excess which we take to the market either as roasted peanuts or peanut butter, which gives us more money,” she said.

While the groundnut business is booming, the association has also diversified its operations to ensure that they have a steady income throughout the year since groundnuts are a seasonal crop.

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