SYDNEY SAIZE IN MUTARE
At least 5 000 out-grower tea farmers are benefitting from the recently commissioned herbal tea plant in Penhalonga, located 18 kilometres north of the city of Mutare.
The plant, owned by Organic Africa, is the biggest herbal tea plant in southern Africa.
Beneficiaries are farmers from across Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland East and West provinces.
The project is backed by the German and Swiss governments who are major consumers of the herbal tea that is grown organically in Africa with a niche market in Europe.
Kevin Martin of La Rochelle Centre, where the factory is situated, said the farmers who are well distributed across the country would input into the project.
“We have farmers that are in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West including Masvingo. These are contributing to the project of herbal tea production in the country set for export,” Martin said.
Organic Africa chief executive officer Dominikus Collenberg said the firm is producing 0.5% of the herbal tea that is consumed globally.
“At the La Rochelle Centre here we are producing just a half percent of the requirements of herbal tea on the continent and there is a need for us to produce more and meet the high demand,” Collenberg said.
Collenberg appealed to the government for long leases for planning purposes on the land and for development.
“We call on the government to avail long leases for farmers to properly plan on the land and do massive developments, because as it stands short leases make it difficult for that to happen. We need to invest in water resources and solar power to augment currently available power resources,” he said.
German ambassador to Zimbabwe Udo Volz said power cuts were crippling operations.
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority board chairperson Ivan Craig praised the company for roping in local farmers in the thriving business.
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement deputy minister, Douglas Karoro, recently officially opened the multi-million dollar Herbal Tea factory with German and Swiss Ambassadors in attendance who pleaded for more power generation and water for increased productivity in the investment.
Karoro said he could not guarantee that the issues (leases, power outages and water shortages) were going to be addressed.