Emmah Chinyamutangira Business Correspondent
AGRO-MARKETING company, Brands Fresh, is seeking Government assistance to finance a pineapple project in Mutasa district.
The pineapple project will supplement banana production as a way to boost economic development in rural communities.
Speaking at a farmer’s appreciation day in Honde Valley last week, Brands Fresh general manager Mr Isaac Wisikoti said the company was interested in contracting banana farmers to venture into pineapple production for sale on the local market.
He said Zimbabwean farmers had not been able to meet demand for pineapples, yet Honde Valley had excellent conditions for the fruit to thrive.
“Basically we need the Government to assist us financially in the pineapple project. As an organisation we are struggling to finance some of these farmers so we need support in the form of inputs such as fertilisers, farming equipment and extension services for the farmers,” he said.
Mr Wisikoti applauded Government’s effort to support horticulture production in the 2019 National Budget.
He said farmers who were producing pineapples in Honde Valley were doing it at a small scale.
He said the farmers should be capacitated to venture into large scale production through the provision of the necessary inputs and machinery.
“We had a four-year training between 2012 and 2016 on banana production, so we hope to have a similar training focusing on pineapples.
“We need more agronomists who will capacitate the farmers to give them the right knowledge and information on how to obtain and maintain quality standards in the fruit production. This will boost the horticulture sector as well as attract serious buyers,” he said.
Mr Wisikoti said the company had partnered with micro-finance institutions who wanted to support farmers, most of whom needed capital to buy pack shades to reduce multiple handling of the bananas to increase quality.
Pineapple farming is another sure money maker.
Pineapple is a highly valuable fruit among Zimbabweans, and also a highly lucrative crop to grow because it is sold for both domestic consumption and for production of fruit juice.
Thousands of fruit juices are made with pineapple and local fruit juice manufacturers are always on the lookout for pineapple farms where they could buy their raw material.
The crop is regarded as edible gold in countries like Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa, where it is grown at commercial scale.
The crop thrives in deep sandy loam, but could also be grown on other soil types provided organic matter is added and it’s free of water logging conditions.
It is fairly drought resistant, but performs best in an area with a well distributed rainfall of at least 1000mm per annum. It enjoys humid conditions and prefers soil with good water retention ability.