ZimTrade moves in to promote Chia seeds value chain

By ZBC Reporter
THE local production and processing of nutrient rich Chia seeds as an alternative cash crop is gaining momentum in Zimbabwe, with ZimTrade moving in to harness the entire value chain.
Relatively unknown in Zimbabwe, chia seed is a lucrative cash crop used mainly as a food ingredient and for other industrial uses.
The Chia seeds value chain is fast evolving with a local organisation taking the lead in increasing its production.
“The local climate suits well the growing of chia and farmers can uptake this crop,” said Eddy Rous, Chia Zimbabwe Chief Operations Officer.
Zimbabwe’s trade promotion body, ZimTrade toured one of the country’s chia seed processing plant in Harare to assess the development of the value chain.
“The processing plant is key in the Chia seed value chain and this plant has a combined capacity to produce over 4000 tonnes annually,” said Jerry Mandondo, Innovations and Standards Manager, Chia Zimbabwe.
ZimTrade Communications Officer, Mr Danai Majaha noted that the trade promotion body is already tapping into the export market for the crop.
“The Exports growth strategy entails supporting new product lines such as Chia seeds and as a body our expectations are to research and assist the local chia producers to tap into the export market,” said Danai Majaha, Communications Officer, ZimTrade.
Chia seeds are not only rich in nutrients, omega-3 fat, antioxidants and fiber but also easy to prepare. People commonly add them to their porridge or smoothies. Studies suggest that they have various health benefits, ranging from weight loss to reduced inflammation.
An investment of 350 United States dollars per hectare can return up to 1800 United States dollars and over 3000 farmers have been trained countrywide to grow the crop.