From Kudzanai Sharara in Beitbridge
Processer of fruit and related products Beitbridge Juicing Private Limited focuses on the processing of 25,500 tonnes of oranges at its Beitbridge plant by the end of 2018 years.
If this is achieved, the output of this year is 59 percent higher than the 16,000 tons that was processed in 2017.
Beitbridge Juicing Private Limited (BBJ), head of operations, Mr. Charles Tembo, said the company, which is 100% owned by Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited, is expected to have $ 17.5 million gross of the processed product largely supplied to the parent company.
"We see that we are achieving that target of 25 500 tonnes, because we have already processed 15 500 tonnes," Mr Tembo said on Monday during a tour of the factory in the processing plant.
Mr. Tembo said that although the factory has capacity to process 40,000 tonnes, it is limited by the amount of oranges supplied by the nearby farms.
Approximately seven farms, which produce more than 2,000 hectares, supply BBJ fresh oranges for processing.
Mr. Tembo, however, said most of the oranges from the farms are destined for the export market where they get better prices and also much needed foreign currency.
"About 70 percent of the oranges produced by the nearby farms are meant for the export market, while 20 percent go to the local market as fresh fruit, the 10 percent balance being processed locally," said Mr. Tembo.
He said that farmers normally get good prices, three times as much, on the exported oranges than they get from locally processed oranges.
Despite the fact that he paid less, Mr. Tembo said that the factory is an important aspect in the value chain because it occupies some oranges that do not necessarily reach the export market.
"Some oranges may have stains and are not good for export or local market, but they will still be fresh for processing, so the plant is a vital gear, otherwise those oranges will eventually be fed to animals," he said.
Since most of the oranges are destined for the export market, Mr Tembo said that the plant does not necessarily have to process at its maximum capacity of 40 000 tonnes.
In 2017, the plant was only able to process 16 000 tonnes, one of the lowest quantities in years.
In order to increase its application and corporate social responsibility, BBJ has intervened with non-governmental organizations to support and utilize grower plans, with Shashe Irrigation Scheme being the first.
According to Schweppes, marketing and corporate communications executive, Mrs. Una Nyikadzino is at least 200 families on 92 hectares of the scheme.
"The scheme expects to produce 600 tons this year and at least 95 percent of the products will come to our factory, which is a guaranteed market, while the balance for the local market is fresh fruit.
Last year, Mrs. Nyikadzino said that BBJ had provided $ 80,000 in working capital for other requirements.
"Shashe is close to our hearts and we will continue to support them," said Mrs. Nyikadzino
She said that a revolving fund worth $ 60,000 was also available to farmers.