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Golden era for pineapple farmers in Chipinge

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Story by Theophilus Chuma

Smallholder pineapple farmers in Chipinge are reaping huge rewards from the international market through a government-led export initiative.

Under the scorching sun in Chipinge, Sarudzai Sithole, unmindful of the intense heat, tends to her pineapple field.

From a hectare, she is guaranteed an income of over US$2000 when she sells her product abroad, income she never realised on the domestic market.

“I used to farm pineapples, but would sell through middlemen who offered me 20 cents per kilogramme. It was never enough, but through the export programme, I am now able to get as much as 70 cents per kilogramme, which is somehow very viable for me as a farmer,” said Ms Sithole.

Three years back, Sithole suffered a major setback when Cyclone Idai destroyed her homestead.

The income from the pineapples has, however, turned things around.

Her story is shared by hundreds of farmers in Rusitu, who are now producing pineapples for export to the Netherlands, a platform enabled by the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement drive.

“ It gives great pleasure and honour to know that as a farmer, I am able to contribute to the national horticultural exports,” added another farmer, Mrs Lyness Chishiri.

Government is focusing more on small holder farmers thereby transforming thousands of livelihoods.

“Before this programme, I used to produce only 25 kilogrammes of pineapples, but now I am able to produce over 800 kilogrammes of the product,” said Mr Thomas Bhangiza, another farmer.

Through its trade arm, ZIMTRADE, government has mobilised this cluster to feed into the export grid where opportunities look set to extend into new European and Middle East markets.

“Apart from the Netherlands, we are exploring Dubai and we have also engaged Italy. The opportunity to export is really quite huge and this is good for the farmers,” ZIMTRADE coordinator, Mr Prince Kayo said.

The Second Republic is on a spirited drive to increase exports through discovering new markets under the engagement and re-engagement drive