LISTED agricultural concern, Ariston Holdings Ltd says it is planning to revamp a hydro-power plant at Claremount to ease power shortages adversely impacting productivity in the group, a top company official has said.
By Fidelity Mhlanga
CE Paul Spears said this week the move would capacitate Claremont farm with 300 kilowatts, mitigating electricity scarcity affecting irrigation .
“The hydro scheme was installed in 1960 so it needs to be rehabilitated to produce about 300 kilowatts .Hopefully, by May or June it will be done. That will be enough to supply Claremont and if there is surplus, we going to sell it to the (national) grid,” he said.
Spears said Zimbabwe consumes 25 000 tonnes of apples per annum but production in the country was 4 000 tonnes with the rest around imported largely from South Africa.
The weakening of the rand has been affecting the competitiveness of the company’s produce, he said.
“There was a time when we could sale apples with competitive prices but the reality is the rand is so weak and they are hungry for dollars. It puts pressure on our margins they sell (South African apples) at $ 0, 10 which is our profit. We have to learn to be competitive. There is a big difference of productivity between South Africa and Zimbabwe the issue of pricing puts pressure on us,” he added.
For the financial year ended September 30 2015, the company posted a loss of US$1,7 million from a profit of US$1,5 million in 2014 in the same period. This was largely caused by the US$2,2 million increases in finance costs.
Revenue plunged 6% from US$12,5 million to US$411,8 million during the year.
Discontinued operations contributed a loss of US$3,4 million due to poor results of the trading division and the costs of unwinding the business.
The company discontinued FAVCO operations and transferred to Brands Africa in June last year due to continued losses.
The business unit’s portfolio performance saw Southdown Estates revenue at US$9 million which equates to 76% contribution to group revenue. Kent Estate contributed US$1,1 million while down from US$2,3 million in 2014.
Claremont revenue was US$2 million, a 16% growth from last year.
Ariston hopes to conclude the conversion of US$5,5 million debt into equity within two months.
Group chairman Robbie Mupawose said the fundamentals of a shrinking economy evidenced by high interest rates, working capital constraints, continues to put pressure on the group.
Macadamia volumes record yield per tonne increased from 1 105 in 2014 to 1 385 last year due to investment in irrigation.
Ariston fully owns Claremont Orchards, Southdown Estates, Kent Estates and 75 % stake in Nyanga Trout Farming private Ltd-a joint venture with Three Streams holdings.