Listed agro-industrial concern, Ariston Holdings says it has expanded its fruits and crops area this summer as it anticipates normal to above normal rainfall patterns.
The group human resources manager Brian Kagondo told Business Times there was still hope for a good harvest although the company experienced late rains.
“We have expanded our productive area this year on the back of good rainfall patterns and modified irrigation infrastructure which covers a huge area,” he said.
Kagondo said Ariston was still repairing its irrigation infrastructure which was damaged by Cyclone Idai in 2019.
“…we are not yet there but we have covered a lot of ground. This is an opportunity to modify our irrigation to cover a bigger area than before,” Kagondo said.
He is optimistic that the 2021/2022 summer cropping season will be instrumental in helping the group’s performance in the new financial year.
Ariston has moved to set up an irrigation infrastructure in its various estates to ramp up production and remove a dependence on rain-fed agriculture which could be vulnerable to weather vagaries.
Currently, more than 70% of the group’s key crops are under irrigation meaning that the agricultural institution can grow all year round.
The group believes 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.
The group is still rebuilding infrastructure that was destroyed over three years ago, due to foreign currency challenges in the country.
Ariston expects export prices for macadamia and tea to remain stable at the current levels.
Ariston believes the forex auction system will ensure that the group’s export revenues are reflected at the market related fair value when reported in RTGS$.
This is expected to increase agricultural production and also crucial for food security and forex generation.
Currently, over 65% of Ariston’s products are exported primarily to Europe, USA and increasingly to India and Africa and the group is optimistic that the exports will go up in 2022.
He said due to economic challenges and volatility of the local currency the group took an export oriented path for the company to remain viable.