BEST Fruit Processors (BFP) says it requires at least $1 million to boost its production capacity which currently stands 30 000 tonnes of raw fruit per annum.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a BFP plant tour in Norton yesterday, BFP general manager Eng Smart Zongololo they had discussed with their partners regards financing production at the plant in bid to boos capacity and all that’s left is the funding to come through.
By TechnoMag Reporter
For this year alone, we have been talking to our partners with the view that if we get $1 million, that should go long way in terms of the irrigation aspect of it and we would also want to believe that with another million, we should have a very robust support system in terms of inputs like fertilizers, chemicals among others,” said Zongololo.
He added that a total of $3 million was invested in 2016 in a three phased plant refurbishment program which increased plant capacity to the current 30 000 per annum.
“In 2016, only a total of 2,400 tonnes of fruit in the form of tomatoes, guavas, and mangoes was processed as a pilot phase during plant refurbishment works which were completed in October 2016 to ensure that the plant is fully commissioned for running full throttle in 2017.
“Of the processed products last year, tomatoes comprised 85% contribution and all the tomato paste output was fully absorbed by local manufactures due to high quality compared to imported paste,” said Zongololo.
“The focus is import substitution for tomato paste and other fruit purees as well as export contribution to increase the much needed foreign currency earnings fro the country. Year to date 2017, 320 tonnes of butternut have been processed into puree and the plant is currently processing Guava.”
Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya pledged to finance activities at the BFP through normal banking channels so as to boost exports and generate the foreign currency.
“The US dollar that we are using in Zimbabwe is being generated from exports, we are ready to finance production at this firm so as to boost the capacity so as to generate more exports so that we wont run dry on foreign currency,” said Mangudya.
The plant is targeting to commence processing of tomatoes in June this year due to the incessant rains which according to agriculture experts are not ideal for tomato growing.
BFP is a joint venture between Beitbridge Juicing Pvt Ltd and the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) for processing fruit at a production plant in Norton. BBJ is the managing partner in the deal with 70 percent ownership while ARDA on the hand retains the balance 30 percent stake.
To date Bfp has made a capital injection of US$3 million since September 2015 to revive the operations at the plant which had ceased operating in 2009.
BFP is wholly owned by Schweppes Zimbabwe Holdings Africa Limited.