US$15m investment for horticultural firm

Leading horticultural firm, Nhimbe Fresh Produce, has secured US$15 million for its Stone Fruit project in Marondera in the Mashonaland East Province from a yet to be disclosed United Arab Emirates investor, the company’s chief executive Mr Edwin has said.

The funds will be channelled towards development of other fruit crops including lemons, avocados and pecan nuts in the same province.

Many foreign companies are warming up to Zimbabwe following the enactment of laws and regulations that attract foreign direct investment.

“The facility has been secured and some works have already started on our 82,5 hectares stone fruit farm in Marondera,” Mr Moyo told The Herald Finance & Business in an interview yesterday.

“All the produce will be exported to the United Arab Emirates.”

The UAE is mainly desert and most of the food consumed by this oil rich country is imported.

For other fruit crops, Mr Moyo said the company would engage land holders under contract farming arrangements.

“We do not have enough land, so we are going to outsource,” he said.

“So we are looking for people with land; with offer letters so that more funds can be released.”

Nhimbe recently raised a substantial amount after its local bond was fully subscribed.

The funds will go towards expansion of its 200ha blueberry farm.

The company also secured offshore funding for the same project.

The fruition of the projects would see the company realising US$18 million in revenue per year and employ 4 000 people, said Mr Moyo.

“All our farms and a pack house will be solar powered and we have secured US$1,5 million to build a 1,2 megawatt plant,” Mr Moyo added.

Zimbabwe’s horticulture industry-promising to be one of the country’s major foreign currency earners — has been showing positive signs of recovery and exports have been on an upward trend.

Exports in 2018 rose 116 percent last year to US$112 million from US$52 million recorded in the previous year, lifted by new products which were previously not exported.

The European Union remain the largest market for Zimbabwe’s horticultural products and accounts for 43 percent of total horticulture exports, according to Trade Map.

Other main importers from the EU region are Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Malta, Romania and Greece.

The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area will also create huge opportunities for Zimbabwe to export into the region, mainly to Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have lesser controls. Other potential markets exist in Germany and Asia, particularly in Japan.

Dubai is emerging as a strong market for Zimbabwean horticultural produce.

Zimbabwe used to be one of the largest exporters of a wide range of horticultural products in Africa, supplying overseas markets including Europe and the Middle East. For instance, citrus exports peaked in 2001 at 45 000 tonnes, being 60 percent of fresh produce output.

Zimbabwe became a valuable exporter of cut flowers, and by 2001, it was ranked as the second largest in Africa, behind Kenya, second among African, Caribbean and Pacific exporters, and was the fifth biggest exporter to the EU.

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