By Stephen Ephraem
CHIPINGE: THE advent of commercial macadamia farming took upper Chipinge by storm. Several commercial farmers switched from tea and coffee production in favour of the nuts, Post On Sunday Reports.
Large scale entities such as Ariston’s Southdown Holding, Tanganda Tea Company, Buzi Tea Company and Makandi have already undertaken the growing of macadamia nuts. Timber conglomerate, the Wattle Company is also eyeing the nuts business.
There are several other farms which are producing macadamia nuts at commercial basis according to the Zimbabwe Macadamia Association statistics which has a membership of 310 farmers, with 15 000 ha under nuts production in Chipinge.
One of the commercial entities which is set to change the face of macadamia nuts production in Chipinge is Avomac Farm situated 24km northeast of Chipinge town near Clearwater.
The farm is sponsoring new growers into commercial macadamia nuts farmers.
Avomac Farm has 117 ha of macadamia nuts, of which 19ha is under irrigation and the remainder under arable farming.
It also has 12ha of avocadoes for export and maintains a woodlot and gum tree plantation for fuel wood used in the drying of nuts.
According to the administrator for Avomac Farm, Dephin Mbanje, their program is meant to expand macadamia nuts production.
“We have embarked on a program that we finance new comers who wish to venture into macadamia nuts business.
We give them the whole package from tillage, seedlings, chemicals, and harvesting” said Mbanje.
“We have established a macadamia nut nursery measuring one quarter of a hectare which has 65 000 plants in the nursery.
New farmers who are interested, we have designed a scheme were we enter into an agreement of a 20 year contract macadamia farming, she added.
“One can start to realise profit at seven years so that’s when we start to do gross profit sharing. So far we have managed to plant 7 ha on contract and we are expecting to expand,” Mbanje said.
On how the trade has been faring during Corona Virus lockdown, the Avomac administrator indicated that the pandemic had a huge bearing on their operations.
The farm can dry up to 100 tonnes per season but the coming of the Corona Virus global pandemic resulted with few merchants coming to buy our nuts, and it led to them monopolising the market, low prices were offered for the nuts.
Mbanje further highlighted challenges they face in their line of business one of them being drying plants and Norden equipment so as many other nuts farmers in Zimbabwe.
Contacted for a comment, ZimTrade manager for eastern region Admire Jongwe indicated that their organization is helping all macadamia nuts venture to have new markets in order for them to get high returns for their efforts.
“As ZimTrade we aim at propping up macadamia nuts farmers by creating a lovely market space where farmers and merchants trade without middlemen as it used to be. We are destined to create a high demand for the nuts,” said Jongwe.
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