Tupio Mulia – Bitbridge Office
Agricultural projects visited by the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development recently have the potential to generate billions of dollars in foreign exchange.
The Minister and a team of technocrats from the Ministry visited the Zoho Dam, Topic Investment Zovhe High Integrated Agriculture, Papston Citrus Estate and Swepes Zimbabwe Limited Bitbridge Juice Factory.
He was on a mission to review progress on new and ongoing irrigation and citrus projects in the area.
In addition to horticulture, citrus grows well in the country’s tropical and arid climate.
Currently, the production of fruits and vegetables is less than 5 percent, and the government aims to increase its gross domestic product (GDP) to 10 percent or more.
Plans are also underway to increase citrus-covered land from 4,000 hectares to 10,000 acres[10,000 ha].
According to agricultural experts, citrus production has shifted from the northern part of the country (Mazowe) to the southern region (Bitbridge), where the climate is more favorable.
Most of the commercial and small-scale farming in Westbridge is mainly connected to the 133 million cubic meters of the Zoho Dam and the Uingvane River Irrigation.
The dam is one of the 10 largest water bodies in the country and the government has started work on irrigation development and related projects to make full use of the water.
According to Masuka, Zimbabwe and Kuwait have mobilized US $ 35 million to develop horticulture and citrus for more than 2,500 hectares of irrigation.
A 63-mile[63 km]canal is also being built to bring water to the town of Bitbridge.
Experts say that when the dam is fully operational, a three-year water supply can be provided to the bridge.
The new irrigation project will benefit more than 5,000 households around the woreda by producing citrus for Kuwait exports.
The dam has great potential for tourism activities following the construction of a local lodge and the introduction of boat sailing and topop investment.
The dam is currently being used by Zhov for integrated irrigation and a few fishing cooperatives.
“Agriculture is in the middle of Vision 2030, so the launch of the Zoho water project can no longer be delayed,” said Minister Masuka.
I have given the project team a deadline of September 30, and they must submit a report on the latest designs and a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.
For a long time, people in this arid region have seen the water flowing into the Indian Ocean without even using it to improve their lives.
Zoho is currently producing fruits and vegetables, wheat, maize, soybeans, and nuts over the next three years to $ 10 million per 1,000 hectares to Citrus.
In terms of livestock, the farm has 1,047 cattle, 453 goats, and 571 sheep and fish stocks.
This is supported by 24 floating nests – each capable of carrying 100,000 fish. Five nests are now stocked with 400,000 fish.
Danisa Moyo, CEO of Topic Investments, said it has 200 employees and expects to hire more people when the 277,000 orange trees project is in full swing.
They also have a large mill for stock foods, corn food and flour.
Bishop Eston exports $ 10 million worth of oranges from $ 1,200 hectares each year and is expanding the project and linking it to other fruit and vegetable development.
The property’s managing director, Robert Park, said 1,200 people from Betibridge County had staff.
He said they are collecting 225 by 2.2 tons of orange trailers every day and the new state park can pack between 50 and 60 tons per hour.
He said we will load 11 trucks a day for export and offshore seasons, irrigate 20 hectares of maize and grow tomatoes for local markets.
Shweps Zimbabwe has also invested in a 40,000 tonne citrus juice processing plant each year.
Charles Misisipa, Managing Director of the company, said that the company is processing about 20,000 tons of fruits every year and that the local fruit producers are producing for the local and export markets.
He said they are working on creating a 2,700ha citrus plant and another 300 will be owned by communities.
“We are currently processing oranges, lemons and grapes into a variety of products, including juice, oil and stock products,” said Mississippi.
Fruit juice concentrations are being used to produce juicy beverages in the country.
He added that they were extracting oil from grapes, lemons and oranges exported to Europe and South Africa.
He said the remaining peel was a good source of nutrients for the stock market.
“Livestock production is important in this region where it is one of the main sources of livelihood,” he said.
Mr Missisapa, for his part, said they were looking to increase the number of workers by creating a citrus green field on the Zovhe Dam.
He said they have hired more than 200 people from areas near the Bridget Juice Factory.
Some workers also say that they are being trained to process juice and produce fruit juices.
In addition to producing raw materials for local markets, he said, we also export oils and frozen juice to Israel, Europe and other markets.
We look forward to expanding our global market share in the near future, to the point where we will be able to produce enough for local plants.
Mississippi, for its part, said it was looking to introduce more programs in line with the concept of power-sharing at Bettridge.