A local business consortium, Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) has established four mango drying centres in Gokwe South district to process and value add the fruit, which is abundant in the area.
Over 500 farmers are benefiting as suppliers to the processing plants, economically empowering them, and creating direct employment.
This is in tandem with government policy of rural industrialisation under which the authorities are encouraging businesses to set up enterprises in rural areas to develop them, and help arrest rural-urban migration.
ABC was set up in 2019 by a German Non-Governmental Organization Welthungerhilfe and Empretec Zimbabwe, with funding from the European Union.
In an interview, ABC General Manager Vernon Mushoriwa said four community-based mango processing centers in Wards 15 and 32, Gokwe South had so far been set up, with 50 farmers running them.
“After realising that the mango season is a very short one, farmers end up throwing away mangoes, ABC started the idea of sun drying mangoes as a way of value adding the fruit. Value addition increases the value of primary agriculture produce by increasing appeal to the customers and the customers’ willingness to pay a premium,” he said, adding: “This also reduces food losses.”
“This has improved incomes for the farmers as they are now able to sell their ripe mangoes to ABC instead of throwing them away.”
Mushoriwa said ABC was selling its products locally, but had plans to secure export markets.
He said the business was receiving export enquiries from potential buyers outside the country, and was working with Zimtrade to develop the external markets.
He said ABC planned to expand its footprint to other districts ‘so that we produce bigger quantities’ to tap the export markets.
ABC is also into sunflower, pearl millet, sorghum, cowpeas and nyimo contract farming, with around 6 000 farmers on its books this season. – New Ziana