R100m citrus investment for Zhovhe Farm

19 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
R100m citrus investment for Zhovhe Farm

The Chronicle

Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau

TOPPICK Investments has injected R100 million in a massive citrus production project at its Zhovhe Farm in Beitbridge, which will see the organisation planting 277 000 orange trees in the next three years.

The company, which set up a highly integrated farm at one of the country’s 10 biggest dams, has since constructed a 9km by 500mm pipeline to boost the new citrus farming and horticulture projects.

Zhovhe Farm manager, Mr Mthulisi Sibanda, said they were importing the citrus propagating material in batches from South Africa.

“The citrus project will cover 1100 hectares and our plan is to plant 277 000 orange trees by 2023. So far, we have planted orange trees of the Benny Valencia, Turkey, and Midnight varieties on 700 hectares,” he said. 

“These are one and a half years old. We expect to start harvesting in the 5th year.”

Mr Sibanda said planting was ongoing on the remaining 400 hectares. He said the citrus project had opened up job opportunities for over 400 people from around the Beitbridge district mainly women and the youth.

Additionally, he said they had grown a total 20 000 lemon trees and that they will introduce more citrus verities in the near future.

“We are now at the final stages of installing a micro jet citrus irrigation system. Further, we are also planting wheat, maize, soya beans, tomatoes, and groundnuts in other sections of the farm,” said Mr Sibanda.

He said they were looking at producing more citrus products for both the local and export markets. To augment power supplies the company is working on setting up a solar power plant and constructing a modern sorting shed for grading citrus produce before taking them to the market. At the moment, the company has upgraded their electricity transformer from 315kv to 1000kv. Since starting operations around 2015, the company has acquired 17 irrigation pivots to enhance crop production throughout the year. “We expect to start getting returns from the citrus project in the next five years. Our bigger plan is to also set up a citrus grading plant within the farm and to construct a 750 kilowatts solar plant to augment power supplies at the farm,” said Mr Sibanda.

Zhovhe Farm workers in Beitbridge preparing to plant some of the orange trees. The farm owners Toppick Investment has invested R100 million into the citrus project. (Picture by Thupeyo Muleya)

He said in terms of oranges’ varieties, they had opted for those that do well under Beitbridge’s climatic conditions and these can be harvested over a period of 60 years.

Prior to the latest developments, Mr Sibanda said they were specialising in other cash crops including wheat, maize, soya beans, groundnuts and livestock production, and fish farming. In terms of livestock, he said they have 1 100 cattle, 385 goats, and 460 sheep.

On the fisheries, they have assembled a complete fish hatchery that is supported by 24 floating cages-each with a carrying capacity of 100 000 fish. An employee at the citrus project, Miss Lilian Moyo said: “I am happy that this project has created opportunities for many youths from our area”.

Ms Tatulo Maphosa from Ward 10 said she has been able to take care of her extended family from the salary she is earning from the highly integrated farm.  “I have learned a lot working at this farm. Besides improving my general upkeep and my family, I am also gaining experience in a number of farming activities here,” said Mr Emmanuel Banda.

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