Zimbabwean farmers urged to exploit citrus export market

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ZIMBABWE’S citrus production sector has been identified as low-hanging fruit, with the potential to increase the country’s gross domestic product if more farmers come on board.

While the country is putting all efforts to increase foreign currency inflows, excess production capacity is lying idle in Mvurwi with a local fruit packing company failing to meet demand as there are only six farmers supplying citrus fruits.

We need more fruit because we need to try and ramp up our production because when you are packing fruit scale of production is very important because the more fruit we can have to lower our costs the better it is for everyone,” said Mr Ian Waters, the technical director of Chitchem.

Speaking during a tour of the packaging firm, the Minister of State in Charge of Monitoring the Implementation of Special Agricultural and Related Programmes, Honourable Davis Marapira challenged government departments to exploit the resource in order to avoid losing revenue to other provinces.

“Let’s go and organise ourselves. We have seen this is where the country can generate foreign currency. Let’s help the country to generate foreign currency. From what I am seeing here, this is a long hanging fruit which can change our country in the shortest possible time. Let’s talk of five years,” said Hon Marapira.

Employees of the firm testified how they have gained from employment generated at the packshed.

“Being a rural area employment was hard to come by, but I am happy I got a job here,” said an employee.

“It is well because we are coming to work and earning a living,” said a beneficiary.

At least 80 000 citrus fruits comprising oranges, naartjies and lemons are being exported from Mvurwi packshed to the European Union market, the Middle East and Asian countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong.