The coronavirus pandemic has affected many country’s economies in the African continent. Amongst the nations hardest hit by the outbreak included Zimbabwe. Sadly Zimbabwe did not only suffer the after-effects of the coronavirus but also experienced a rather wet rainy season. The change in weather combined with the coronavirus made life very hard for mango growers in Zimbabwe. The rains and the coronavirus restrictions caused most roads to get closed down in Zimbabwe. Due to this, the mango growers could not transport their produce to markets, which worried most of them as the situation threatened to leave them with a large harvest and nobody to sell it to.
Dried Fruit Processing Center Opened in Gokwe
But farmers across Zimbabwe couldn’t hold back their joy when they heard that a new dried fruit processing center opened in Gokwe town. The processing plant meant that mango growers could save their harvest from spoiling. All they needed to do was turn them into a new product that could be shipped to buyers across Zimbabwe and abroad. The only market for mangoes accessible before the processing center launched was the Bulawayo market. The market was very far away, and most farmers could not afford to travel and sell their mangoes there. However, with the processing center’s opening, people could still sell the mangoes from their orchards and get money.
Zimbabwe’s new processing plant was set up by German aid group Welthungerhilfe (WHH). The aid group launched the plant to help mango farmers to deal with large harvests they sometimes face at the end of each season. Once, people all across Zimbabwe only grew cotton. But after a while and increasingly erratic weather, inflation, and low cotton prices pushed farmers to look for alternative fast-growing cash crops. Mangoes grow well in Zimbabwe, and the demand for dried mango products has been high both abroad and in Zimbabwe.
The processing plant so far serves more than 3,400 farmers in Zimbabwe. But the German aid group has hinted that it will set up more community-based processing centers in other parts of Zimbabwe over the next few years.
Mango Growers Depend on the Sun to Dry Mangoes
The mangoes’ drying has helped many small-scale growers in Zimbabwe avoid waste from the large yield they produce. To dry the mangoes, the growers lay pieces of mangoes on racks put outside in the sunshine, under netting to keep flies away. The dried mangoes fetch up to four times as much as a whole bucket of fresh mangoes in Zimbabwe, normally only $1. Due to this, many mango farmers in Zimbabwe have escaped the economic impacts of climate change. The trees have provided an income even if other crops are affected by dry spells or flooding.
But maintaining a steady supply from demand flow has been very hard to achieve so far. This has happened because production has depended on the sun as a free, clean source of heat. The incessant rains have limited the production of the dried fruit a lot. But the processing center has said it plans to start using electrical dehydrators when it gets cloudy, so production increases. This will increase production costs, but more sales will be made, and hence there will be more profitable.