Zimbabwe: Rollex to engage more farmers
Herald | 28 September 2015

Zimbabwe: Rollex to engage more farmers

By Martin Kadzere

Rollex Farm Fresh, a leading horticultural company, says it will bring more farmers under its contract scheme to produce fresh produce mainly for the local market, an official said.

This comes at a time when most local supermarkets are fully stocked with imported fresh produce such as onions, grapes, peaches, frozen vegetables, carrots, bananas, beans and peas.

Most of these products are being imported from South Africa, despite Zimbabwe having suitable conditions to produce enough for the domestic market and surplus for export.

Rollex chief executive Mr Edwin Moyo said his company was working on a financing model to increase farmers under its contract scheme to competitively produce for the local market.

“We would like to beef up our out grower scheme . . . to produce high value crops so that we can produce enough for local supermarkets such as Pick ‘n’ Pay,” said Mr Moyo.

“This will help curb the influx of imports of fresh products from South Africa.”

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the importation of fresh produce saw the country spending about $4 million in the first three months of the year.

Rollex is an agriculture division of Lonrho, also involved in packing of fresh produce for retail chains including Tesco and Mark & Spencer in the United Kingdom and South Africa’s Spar and Pick ‘n’ Pay supermarkets. It is also involved in logistics.

The company has more than 150 farmers under its contract scheme and also runs its own farms.

While Mr Moyo could not be drawn into revealing facilities the company is pursuing, he told local media last year that the external shareholders had agreed to invest $16 million.

Zimbabwe’s horticultural industry, has been on a rebound since 2010 following successive years of recession, which started on the turn of the millennium.

Air cargo exports have been rising since 2012 mainly driven by vegetables and flowers. And with the continued growth in exports, Zimbabwe, has started sea freight shipments, Mr Moyo said.

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 also 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.

Zimbabwe has recorded increase in fresh produce exports to the European Union, capitalising on restrictions imposed on Kenya by the regional block over the use of banned chemicals.

Kenya is one of Africa’s largest fresh produce exporters and enjoys about 10 percent of the EU market share. It earned about $1 billion from fresh produce exports last year.
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Source: Herald 
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