By Faith Chimutsa.
Since the beginning of the new dispensation in Zimbabwe there has been a huge expansion in the horticulture industry, Selby Enterprise founder Adam Selby said at a media tour at Komani Farm recently.
The media with the Permanent Secretary John Bhasera toured Komani Farm where Selby Enterprise Farm is located. The team visited the Blueberry project at Komani Farm and it’s roll out plan and the upgrade to the pack house to accommodate horticultural expansion.
Also of important significance is the expansion of the grower network of peas and perennial export crops. A large solar investment has been carried out with a large industrial cold storage facilities for potatoes or perishable goods constructed.
Selby Enterprise Farm is also doing a major investment in refurbishing the facility for air and sea freight products at Harare International Airport.
Speaking to the media during the tour, Adam Selby revealed that since the Second Republic, horticulture farmers have been taking the business seriously thus prompting them to have a large industrial cold storage facility.
“The Enterprise is having a Blueberry project which stared 2 years ago and we are looking forward to have 600 hectares of blueberry in the coming years. The varieties of the blueberry being cultivated here are Jupiter, Atlas, Azara, Olympus Blue, Valentino and Mega Pop. 500 workers are employed permanently with the number rising to about 1800 when the season gets busy,” Said Selby
“Horticulture to me is all about fruits and vegetables. The two are insuperable, and our main exports are cherry pepper and blueberry. Last year we exported 450 tonnes of cherry pepper and this year we will have about 700 tonnes whilst blueberry had 25 tonnes exports the previous year and this year it is about 150 tonnes,” added Selby.
There is a huge increase on the exports with the Enterprise in line with Vison 2030 looking forward to rake more $1 billion USD in export revenue.
Blueberry is exported to Europe and New Zealand whilst cherry pepper market is large in Poland, Germany, Greece and United Kingdom. The Selby Enterprise do processing and packaging of canned fruit jam, peas and baked beans for other organizations like Save More, Red Seal and One Church’s humanitarian organization.
To cut costs, there is improvisation on the use of cans to package cherry pepper exports as they use doypacks which have the same shelf life with the cans. Cherry pepper is out on cheese overseas and make a snack. It can also be used in making pizza. Blue berry is recommended healthy wise as it is said to decrease blood pressure and cancer.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Dr John Bhasera said the government was helping the horticulture industry in different ways he said there is duty free commission on irrigation equipment, capital goods for the farmers’ value edition and quality efficiency.
“We are at some geographical advantage because we market our horticulture products early than other country markets, even if you look at blueberry it is marketed early than other countries. We also market our produces late than other countries thus giving us an added advantage as we get on the market when the produces are not flooded”, said Bhasera.
He also mentioned that small holder farmers were getting assistance from the government through the Horticulture Presidential Scheme.
The Enterprise caters well for the welfare of its workers as they have a community centre which has a creche, gym facility and a hall for functions like weddings, funerals and celebrations. At the creche, children have 3 meals a day whilst their parents are at work.
Other corporate social responsibilities are, payment of school fees for their workers children, Accommodation for contract workers and shelter for permanent workers with families.