Toppick Investments has embarked on a massive citrus production at its Zhovhe Farm in Beitbridge that will see the organisation planting 277 000 orange trees in the next three years.
The company’s chief executive officer, Mr Danisa Moyo, said on Friday last week that they had since constructed a 9km by 500 mm pipeline to boost the new citrus farming and horticulture business.
He was speaking during the tour of the high-integrated farm by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka.
Mr Moyo said they were importing the citrus propagating material in batches from South Africa.
“We have completed constructing a pipeline from Zhovhe Dam to boost irrigation development and we have set our eyes on citrus production, which has high returns on both the local and export markets. The citrus project will cover 1 000 hectares and our plan is to plant 277 000 orange trees by 2023,” he said.
“So far, we have started planting and our target for this year is 88 000. We aim to plant 94 500 in the coming year and also an equal number in 2023”.
Mr Moyo said they were now at the final stage of installing a micro jet citrus irrigation system.
He said they were also planting wheat, maize, soya beans, tomatoes, and groundnuts in other sections of the farm. The CEO said since operations began around 2015, they had acquired 17 irrigation pivots to enhance crop production throughout the year.
“We expect to start getting returns from the citrus project in the next five years. Our bigger plan is to also set up a citrus park shade within the farm and to construct a 750-kilowatt solar plant to augment power supplies at the farm,” said Mr Moyo.
He said prior to the latest developments, they were specialising in other cash crops including maize, soya beans, groundnuts production, livestock, and fish farming.
So far, Mr Moyo said, they delivered 288 tonnes of wheat to the Grain Marketing Board and reserved 100 tonnes for milling at their processing plant.
He added that they had also harvested 375 tonnes of maize from 75 hectares and that in the last two seasons they had delivered a total of 1 500 tonnes of wheat and 875 tonnes of maize to the GMB.
“In terms of livestock, we are currently have 1 047 cattle, 453 goats, and 571 sheep. On the fisheries, we have assembled a complete fish hatchery. This is supported by 24 floating cages-each with a carrying capacity of 100 000 fish. Currently, five cages are stocked with 400 000 fish,” added Mr Moyo.
He said they have a staff complement of over 200 people from the Beitbridge District and more will be hired when the citrus project peaks.
The company also has a chain of service stations, a funeral parlour and two lodges.