By Elijah Chihota

Zimbabwean farmers toil day in day out even late into the night carrying out their farming operations, but at the end of the day, some of them are not realising the full potential of their labour.

The ZIM ASSET’s Value Addition and Beneficiation Cluster, seeks to drive the further processing of raw materials into usable goods for the benefit of local consumers and the creation of employment. Instead of selling their farm produce in its raw state, farmers could embark on the beneficiation route and realise more benefits from their harvests.

Farmers, who are into mixed farming where they rear animals and grow crops at the same time, could reduce their supplementary stock feed costs by producing some of it on their farms. This entails processing maize grain into pollards for feeding chickens and pigs. One animal feed specialist, Gospel Matondi noted that “feed costs are the highest costs in livestock production. In poultry, it’s up to 70-75% and 80% in pigs”.

For human consumption, maize could be processed into mealie meal, and other agro-products.

Potato growers can sell their produce as frozen French fries ready to be used. Others may opt for canning although it is not yet popular in Zimbabwe.

Groundnuts could be further processed into peanut butter at a reasonable cost and increase the farmer’s revenue unlike merely selling unprocessed groundnuts.

A research which was carried out by the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) researchers namely T. Rukuni, R. Nazare, and A. Madzima revealed that “sweet potatoes can be processed into a wide range of products such as flour for bakery and confectionery products, starch, crisps, juice, jam, ketchup. Farmers and entrepreneurs stand to gain by engaging in sweet potato value addition. The project aims to develop and promote activities that value-add to the sweet potato crop.”  This means that farmers should strive to add value to their produce so that they could derive more revenue from their produce.

Farmers who are into cattle ranching may opt to open their own butcheries and slaughter their own beasts from time to time. It has been observed that prices of cattle at times decreases, but the price of beef in shops is always on an upward trend, hence, farmers who run their own butcheries would realise more money from their enterprises.

Animal hides are also becoming a lucrative business with those producing genuine leather products demanding high quality and well-handled skins. The tanned hides could also be sources of foreign currency if exported.

Dairy farmers may also further process raw milk into fresh and sour milk. A good example of this enterprise was demonstrated by the Coetzee family of Dendairy Farm in Kwekwe. The company has risen to become one of the top dairy companies in Zimbabwe which produces fresh, sour and powdered milk as well as ice cream, butter and yoghurt under the Dendairy brand.  

Soya bean farmers could also process their crop to come up with cooking oil, soya cake and milk. It can also be processed into soya sour milk which is very nutritious. The latter is an ingredient for stock feeds.

Horticultural growers could also process their tomatoes into tomato paste though a simple canning process which gives their product a longer shelf life.

Fruit canning is proving to be a big business these days. Zimbabwe is home to several fruits such as mango, oranges, lemons, guavas and mulberries, among others. Owing to their seasonality, the fruits could be canned during the course of the season and latter on sold.

 This year the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) in partnership with Schweppes Holdings Africa revived the Norton-based Zagrinda canning plant where they are canning tomatoes and fruits such as mangoes under a company named Best Fruit Processors. The company could replicate the idea in other areas that are known for producing fruits for the benefit of farmers. These areas include Honde Valley, Vumba and Chipinge in Manicaland Province and Murewa and Mutoko in Mashonaland East Province.

 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.