SMALL-SCALE farmers in rural Gokwe, Zimbabwe have established community-based mango dry processing centres sold to citizens in urban areas.
Gokwe is a district that has abundant mango fruits during the rainy season, and processing plants are meant to prevent post-harvest losses by drying the fruits.
It is also the aim of the community to create employment for the youths where the majority are unemployed as the packaged dried fruits are transported to cities and towns for sale.
“We have set up a community-based mango processing centre in Gokwe. We are preventing post-harvest losses through value addition at the same creating employment,” Gokwe Agricultural Businesss Centre (ABC), Vernon Mushoriwa said.
Gokwe ABC engages local small-scale farmers in production and take their produce to the various markets across Zimbabwe.
The dried mangoes are now readily available in Gokwe and Harare and other urban locations although fruits are more popular during the off-season when they are not available.
At the processing plant located at Gokwe Centre, ABC uses the sun to dry mangoes.
The processing of dried mangoes started in the summer of 2020 when due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, farmers in Gokwe could not travel to Kwekwe, Harare and Bulawayo, and sell their fresh fruits.
This forced farmers to throw away the mangoes when they turned bad.
However, the majority of the farmers have now been rescued by Gokwe ABC, which is purchasing their fruits for processing into dry products.
ABC also processes sunflower seeds into oil and peanuts into peanut butter and recently ventured into chilli production. All the processed crops are purchased from the local farmers.
“We as ABC Gokwe, take this opportunity to appreciate the role that farmers play in ensuring that there is food security in the world. Farmers play a pivotal role in agriculture. Empowered farmers have the potential of driving progress towards ending poverty and hunger in the world,” Mushoriwa said.
He added: “As ABC, we believe in empowering and investing in rural farmers as this results in improved productivity and rural livelihoods. The value chain in Gokwe district will go a long way in tackling rural poverty by increasing the productivity and income of smallholder farmers.”