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Monday, May 27, 2024

Matabeleland South eyes citrus export market

Story by Grace Sibanda

CITRUS farmers in Matabeleland South Province are aiming for the export market, with Zhovhe farm preparing for its first harvest in June this year.

Matabeleland South province has not been spared by the devastating dry spell that hit most parts of the country during this summer cropping season.

Amid the El-Nino-induced drought, there is hope in citrus farming, with Zhovhe citrus farm in Beitbridge expecting its first harvest this June.

The benefits of the citrus farming venture that started in 2021 have cascaded to the local community.

“Before working here, I had nothing to do, now I know a lot about citrus farming, I know how to use micro jets and I can send my child to school,” said a Zhovhe farm worker.

Another said, “A lot of people are benefitting from working here, we have many young people who are here. We have seen that theft has reduced because there is no place and time for it because everyone is busy working to get their own money.”

The incorporation of modern technology has revolutionised citrus farming and the focus is now on the export market.

“Oranges need a lot of water, about 30 litres per hour. We use micro jets to irrigate the oranges, we regulate the system through a filter system that we monitor on our phones via Bluetooth. We also ensure that we always have scouts who are always on the lookout for any challenges that may come with the system. The system is efficient, and we expect a bountiful harvest when we harvest for the first time this year,” said Zhovhe Citrus Farm Manager, Joel Ndou.

The water drawn from the Zhovhe Dam has also confirmed the impact of the government`s irrigation-driven farming and the need to leverage available resources to maximise productivity.

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