THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda), in partnership with Schweppes Zimbabwe, has begun processing up to 100 metric tonnes of tomatoes daily for tomato paste production with plans to soon export the produce.
Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza told businessdigest on Tuesday the tomato paste production process started at the beginning of this month through the operations of Best Fruit Processors.
“We started the processing of tomatoes at the beginning of this month and are looking to produce up to 100 metric tonnes a day,” Nyabadza said. “We started with the plant in Norton. The other plant is in Esigodini in Matabeleland South. This plant will commence between September and October this year.”
He said the company plans to engage a strong outgrower base within the surrounding farming districts which include Chegutu, Kadoma, Mazowe, Bindura, Shamva and Goromonzi.
Nyabadza said the company is putting together a budget to outgrow mangoes, guavas, granadillas, oranges and lemons with a view to start producing various fruit drinks in the short-term.
“The output is for both domestic consumption and a strong export market with focus on the Sadc region,” Nyabadza said.
Nyabadza pointed out that the processing of fruits and tomato paste was aimed at primarily reducing imports while at the same time increasing the export base.
The project is owned by Arda and the Development Trust of Zimbabwe, each party with a 50% stake. The project is the brainchild of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.