Farmers start on avocado plantations, target exports

Farmers start on avocado plantations, target exports

Fungai Lupande

Mash Central Bureau

Farmers in Mashonaland Central have started avocado tree plantations, with their eyes set on export markets in China, Dubai and the European Union in the next three years.

This comes at a time when avocado production is recording a steady increase across the country.

Launching the avocado for the export programme at Cleverhill Farm in Bindura recently, Bindura North Avocado for Export chairperson Mr Rodwell Choto said they are also considering adding value to avocados and will invest in processing plants.

“We learnt a lot when we went to Chipinge last year and we decided to come back and implement what we saw,” said Mr Choto.

“We are starting with avocados but we shall diversify to other fruits. This fruit is for export and we will supply it to the local market after grading.

“We want to set up a plant to express our products. We also went to Chegutu seeking more information and realised that avocados are on high demand in the Netherlands, Dubai and China.”

Mr Choto said the returns from avocados are also high.

They have now teamed up as farmers so they can produce huge volumes of avocados to satisfy the market.

Ms Sandra Mbiringa, the regional manager for the Agriculture Marketing Authority, said they are supporting avocado farming as part of the Government’s Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan.

She said they are linking avocado farmers with export markets in the Netherlands, China, Dubai and other countries.

“We are supporting the planting of fruit trees and we encourage farmers to create clusters. The horticulture market demands produce in volumes and one farmer cannot meet the demand.

“As a cluster, farmers produce more and have bargaining power. Avocados have a local market and we will link farmers to supermarkets.

“We encourage farmers to register so that we know what they produce. This will help us in trade facilitation,” said Mbiringa.

Host farmer, Senator Damian Mumvuri, said the idea started two years ago due to climate change, which has resulted in the decline in yields of traditional crops.

Senator Mumvuri said countries like Kenya were leading in avocado farming and Zimbabwe has perfect weather for the project.

“The project is costly but it is a lifelong project with a life span of 65 to 70 years. This is an inheritance for our children,” he said.

“We will continue to plant maize because sadza is our staple food but we are diversifying to improve our livelihoods.

“We are hoping to attract more farmers. We want to have at least mangoes, oranges, guavas and avocados that we will harvest at different times during the years.”

A farmer Mr Godwin Chikazhi said they participated in workshops organised by ZimTrade where they were alerted on the profitability of avocados on the export market.

One hectare holds 280 plants and in the third year, a farmer makes a profit of about US$49 000.“Avocado trees are generational wealth, our children and grandchildren will benefit from these trees. The yield will decline after 70 years,” he said.

“For one to be a successful avocado farmer, you need grafted trees with certified nurseries with plant quarantine. Desist from taking seeds from bins because they are contaminated and you don’t know the variety.

“We bought our seed from Dodhill Garden Centre in Chegutu, who are certified exporters of seedlings. Root rot is a common disease and a farmer needs a plant with a resistant stem.”

Mr Chikazhi encouraged farmers not to do shortcuts, which he said do not pay.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Monica Mavhunga, said farmers have proven that a country is developed by its people, a guiding principle of the Second Republic.

She said Bindura District has favourable ecological characteristics for commercial avocado farming.

“It is high time that farmers are educated on the need to diversify and venture into high value produce like avocados, macadamia nuts and other horticulture crops,” she said.

“This will create jobs and improve farmers’ livelihoods. I applaud your aspiration to establish value addition and beneficiation plants to express avocado oil.

“Value addition is a key priority under the National Development Strategy 1. No one will do this for us but ourselves.”

Mr Moses Kudzai, a plant inspector with the Plant Quarantine Service Institute, educated farmers on the export requirements.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar
    citizen 1 year ago

    He’s a bit slow, avocados have been a hot export from all around the world for the last few years.