By ZBC Reporter
A LOCAL investor has expressed interest in injecting close to US$1million towards the production of pecan nuts at Valley Irrigation Scheme in Matobo District, Matabeleland South province.
Talks between Credcorp Investments and 200 smallholder farmers at Valley Irrigation Scheme on the million-dollar investment project are currently underway amid high expectations that the deal will sail through and pave way for the planting of the trees by July this year.
Credcorp Investments is also in partnership with the government at the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Antelope Estate in Maphisa, Matobo district.
Speaking to the Zbc News, ARDA antelope Estate Manager, Alec Chinyai said under the proposed lease agreement, the investor will occupy 136 hectares of the 200-hectare piece of land while capital will be channeled towards revamping infrastructure at the irrigation scheme and production of the pecan nuts.
“The value of each seedling is 20 USD and we want to grow 140 plants per hectare. The total value of the trees is about 380 thousand USD. We will also revamp infrastructure, bringing the cost all in all to about one million dollars,” he said.
The investor is also offering 44 tonnes of maize and 65 tonnes of wheat which is to be paid to farmers before initial harvests, which are expected in eight years. After the first harvests, the farmers will get five percent of the nuts harvested whose estimated value is R1,5 million.
The proposal is being seriously considered by smallholder farmers who have been facing a host of operational challenges, including inconsistent power supplies.
“We have been facing a lot of problems as farmers particularly with regards to utility bills but we are happy that we have found an investor who will help us to get on our feet again,” said one farmer.
In the long term, the potential investor who is seeking to have a niche in the lucrative pecan nut industry intends to expand the scheme from 200 to 400 hectares.
Valley is a communal irrigation scheme in the Donkodokwe area in Kezi run by 200 farmers. Despite efforts by the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and a non-governmental organisation Sizimele to rehabilitate the scheme, the producers have not been able to realise their full potential.
By ZBC Reporter