Listed agro-industrial concern Ariston Holdings is is pinning its hopes on good rainfall season in the 2019-2020 summer cropping season as the group moves to ramp up production as a significant portion of its estates rely on rain-fed agriculture.
Last year, crop output in most parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe, was shattered by the El Nino weather phenomenon. The development comes at a time when the weather forecasters expect good rainfall patterns throughout the summer season, a move that is expected to change farmers’ fortunes in the 2019/2020 agricultural season.
Ariston group human resources manager Brian Kagondo said a good summer cropping season will help to improve company’s performance in its various estates.
“The group believes a normal rainfall season will help both irrigated and dry land area as dry land needs consistent rains to grow commercial crops while at the same time water levels at various sources were now down and good rainfall patterns will help to irrigate the estates all year round,” Kagondo said.
“The group has been making considerable effort to rehabilitate existing irrigation structures that had been destroyed by Cyclone Idai and establish new schemes.
“This means that at present more than 65 percent of the group’s key crops are under irrigation with potential to install irrigation on an additional 300 hectares of arable land when resources allow.”
The group said a normal rainfall season will improve tea and macadamia nuts production.
Ariston—whose six strategic business units across Zimbabwe are the Blended Tea Factory, Claremont, Clearwater, Kent, Roscommon and Southdowns Estates—projects that fruit output (at Claremont) will increase three-fold in coming few years as new orchards come into production.
The conversion of Afrifresh’s loans into equity has enabled the company to raise cheap long-term capital.