Tanganda sinks $30m in food plantation

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Martin Kadzere and Enacy Mapakame
Tanganda Tea Company says it has started exports of avocados to Europe amid high expectations this will propel the company’s profitability, a senior official has said.

Traditionally, Tanganda was mainly into tea and coffee, but diversified into food plantations to take advantage of the growing market of avocados as well as macadamia nuts.

“Avocado (exports) have been very good for us,” James Ward, the chairman of Tanganda said.

“We have exported 1 300 tonnes of avocados this year.”

The company operates an avocado packaging plant in Chipinge District in Manicaland, which the company is failing to fully utilise due to the inadequate feedstock.

Currently, the company has over 400 hectares under avocado and 800ha for macadamia.

“We have a big (avocado) factory. We need more avocados because we have an expensive processing plant, which we generally use for three or four months a year,” Ward said.

“We plan to plant considerably more over the next two or three years so that we can extend the working time of our factory. We (also) pack for other people for export. It’s a big export business of avocados in the Chipinge area. We have done 400 to 500 tonnes for other people but need to grow that.”

During the past five years, Tanganda invested at least $30 million in food plantations.

There is a growing global demand of avocado fruit resulting from low production levels across the world, which was triggered by an extreme heat in 2016 and drought. After more than 182 million kilogramme of avocado were harvested in 2016, the number dropped to just 907 000 kilogramme last year, according to reports.

Between 2012 and 2016, Zimbabwe’s avocado exports rose 302 percent to $4,2 million from $1 million, largely driven by increased large-scale avocado production in Manicaland, according to figures from ZimTrade, Zimbabwe export promotion body.

The major destination markets were The Netherlands, UK, France and Germany, it added.

On the other hand, the global macadamia market is expected to reach $4,5 billion by 2024, from $3 billion in 2017, according to recent world macadamia research.

The global macadamia market is anticipated to witness substantial growth within the forecast period, mainly driven by increasing demand for macadamia in the cosmetic industry.

Owing to its high nutrients, macadamia is widely used in production of desserts, cookies, chocolates, cakes, and other confectionery products.

“We have nearly 800ha of macadamia nuts. It’s all for export . . . to China,” Ward said.

Tanganda produced 400 tonnes of coffee this year, which will all be sold to Nespresso, the unit of Nestle SA. Ward said the company was investing in drip irrigation to minimise water usage and about 300ha have already been developed.

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