Business

Zim To Benefit From US$5,5m Packhouse Plan

Zimbabwe is set to benefit from an initiative to build €5 million (US$5,45m) worth of cold storage facilities, sources in the horticultural industry said, welcoming the initiative as a positive development for the sector.

The Horticulture Development Council (HDC) hailed the initiative by pan-African firms InspiraFarms Cooling and InfraCo Africa targeted to benefit Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia and Ghana, given its potential positive impact on export revenue. In terms of the deal, InspiraFarms Cooling seeks to pilot its ‘Cooling-as-a-Service’ model in the listed countries, which seeks to ensure affordable services for its clientele.

The new cold-storage packhouses will be owned by InspiraFarms Cooling with clients paying for the cooling services. The initiative would address challenges encountered by horticulture farmers during the marketing of their produce, including inadequate storage facilities that cause significant post-harvest losses.

Many small-scale farmers do not have access to cold storage facilities, leading to the loss of perishable produce like fruits and vegetables. Poor transportation systems also contribute to a lot of post-harvest losses, as produce often gets damaged during long journeys to markets or processing facilities.

Reducing post-harvest losses in Zimbabwe’s horticulture sector is crucial for improving farmers’ livelihoods through better food security, and the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Across Africa, 30-50 percent of produced food never reaches the table but is lost after harvest, positioning food systems as the second largest Greenhouse gas (GHG) contributor.

The agreement that is set to enhance operations in the sector, HDC chief executive officer Linda Nielsen said, “The development will go a long way in enhancing the growth and development of local horticulture. InspiraFarms is already active in Zimbabwe, and this welcome partnership with InfraCo potentially expands its reach in the country. Post-harvest losses are one of the biggest challenges that many of our farmers face”

“Such investments help ease these losses. Cold chain infrastructure is an essential component of the HDC’s Hub and Spoke Model, under which emerging growers are a key part of the horticulture value chain,” said Ms Nielsen.

Losses in horticultural production occur at various stages of the supply chain, from harvesting to transportation, storage, and marketing. Poor market access and limited market opportunities also contribute to post-harvest losses. Farmers often face challenges in finding buyers for their produce, leading to prolonged storage and an increased likelihood of spoilage.

Additionally, price fluctuations and market demand fluctuations can result in farmers selling their produce at lower prices, further increasing the losses.

Shumirai Nyamadzawo

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