“Zimbabwe farmers can realise millions if they venture into fruit farming”

By William Milasi

In country where most farmers are into cereal and vegetable production for Kwekwe farmer Sam Gomba, the transition from cattle ranching to fruit farming was indeed a leap of faith.

An engineer by profession, Gomba says fruit production offers some serious opportunities for farmers in the country.

“We don’t have at the moment significant numbers going into fruit production. The culture of Zimbabwean farming has been cereals and vegetable production. But we are seeing a lot of appetite now coming up, a lot of farmers are now showing an interest of getting into fruit production,” he said.

Gomba who served the Agricultural Rural Development (ARDA) as vice chairperson for eight years said after buying his 20 hectares farm in Kwekwe in 2002 his first farming venture was in horticulture a year after and by then he was using overhead irrigation before turning to drip irrigation which he is using up to date.

“Though we still have a long way to go mainly because it takes some time before you get returns  in getting in fruit production I am seeing some farmers are now taking an interest un fruit production. One of the reasons which make farmers to be hesitant when it comes to fruit production is that, you take time before you start realising profits.

“As a country we are losing a lot of money which is running into millions as we are importing fruits. There is a huge demand of fruit on the international market,” he said.

At its peak in the 1990s, the fruit production sector generated about US$140 million per annum.

Gomba has ventured into a specialised area of fruit production, which is the farming of passion fruit or granadilla.

Better known as granadilla, passion fruit is a highly nutritious tropical plant that traces its origins to South America, it is a rich source of powerful antioxidants and have various health benefits.

“To establish a hector of granadillas you need about US$10 000 minimum and, we have established five hectares so far, and, we have another five hectares of capacity in place. Once I am done with the 10 hectares we will have invested about US$ 100 000,” he said.

To invest in his granadilla venture, Gomba had to sell his cattle, “We think the 10 hectares by 2023 must be giving us enough resources to go back to the cattle if we so wish. We are saying can we keep expanding the fruit production until it can supply a factory. Then come 2024 towards the tail end of next year we must be working towards putting up a juicing factory.”

He said granadilla is a very lucrative fruit on the global market.

Gomba said Zimbabwe due to its climate offers an opportune moment for Zimbabwean farmers to venture into granadillas.

“Counties that are in the for front when it comes to granadilla farming are  Venezuela, Vietnam, and India, they talk of eight month from planting to harvesting, in Kwekwe we can pick our first fruit in five to six months because of our hot weather,” he said.

He said Zimbabwe has a greater opportunity for achieving an over US$8 billion agricultural economy by 2025.

“We are talking of an agricultural economy of US$8 billion by the year 2025 I think it’s an under estimate, the potential is too huge. We have the correct climate, we have enough water underground, and flowing if we say fruit is the product we are going to focus on We can achieve more,” he said.

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