Manicaland industries have been urged to leverage on local products to increase capacity utilisation which has remained below 50 percent for years. that national capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector declined to 45,1 percent in 2017 from 47,4 percent recorded last year as rising costs of production and foreign currency shortages, among other challenges continue to take a toll on the sector.
Manicaland industries have not been spared by these challenges which have seen many manufacturing companies downsizing or closing shops altogether.
ZNCC deputy president for Manicaland Mr Kenneth Saruchera said the revival of industries in Manicaland should be a priority.
“Manicaland industry is not performing well but we can address this situation as an industry. We should really leverage on our products as a province to increase capacity utilization,” he said.
He said Manicaland is known for its timber and horticulture but these products have not been able to make an impact on output or revenue inflows for local businesses.
The timber industry has mainly been affected by illegal settlers that have been causing havoc in the pine and eucalyptus plantations, destroying vast swathes of timber at enormous cost.
However, Mr Saruchera said while this remains a problem in this industry, there are other avenues of growing the timber industry.
“Most of our timber is exported raw without adding value. We should make sure we establish businesses that add value to our timber so that we realise more from our timber,” he said.
He added that horticulture could also be an avenue of growing local industry.
“The best potatoes in Zimbabwe are grown in Nyanga. We should take that opportunity and make sure that we add value to those potatoes. We are disappointed that some of the major consumers of potato products are importing potatoes. Some are then frozen for later use. We can actually do that and sell the frozen potatoes to these companies,” he said.
Mr Saruchera said Manicaland could have benefited from Beira Corridor development project, which has been moving at a snail’s pace since the signing of a Memoranda of Understanding between Zimbabwe and Mozambique years back.
“That project seems to have died a natural death yet that was a big project that could have contributed to the development of Manicaland,” he said.
Beira is the shortest route to the sea for Zimbabwe and presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to decongest the Beitbridge and Durban port, ensuring efficient and cost effective movement of goods.