Listed agro-concern Ariston Holdings Limited has invested US$1,5 million in upgrading its orchard farm implements as part of measures to boost production and meet high demand for fruits. Last week, Ariston chief executive Mr Paul Spear said that the spending will improve operations at Claremont farm in Nyanga, which has been lying idle for many years. New fruit varieties will be introduced with special interest on apples whose domestic supply is currently meeting only 25 percent of demand.
Zimbabweans consume over 20 000 tonnes of apples a year but local producers are only able to supply between 5 000 to 6 000 tonnes a year.
“If we produce more, we can tap into that market and cover the deficit as well as compete with imports.
“From a cash-flow point of view, this is capital intensive and requires patience,” said Mr Spear.
Ariston also produces macadamia nuts with majority of the land under the nuts now productive.
Mr Spear said although demand for macadamia nuts in China was encouraging, the company would look at other markets for the product.
“China is now producing theirs and we are worried this might affect prices. It is important to look at other options because if the Chinese market disappears, we might suffer,” he said.
Macadamia nuts are the only commercial food crop indigenous to Australia. The agriculture concern is one of the country’s biggest tea and coffee producers with estates in the Eastern Highlands growing a wide variety of agricultural produce as well as supplying fresh produce through its distribution company Favco.
The estates are in Southdown and Clearwater in Chipinge, Rosecommon in Chimanimani and Kent in Norton.
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