ZIMBABWE – The construction of a cutting-edge avocado processing plant by Cicada Agriculture has made notable strides with this state-of-the-art pack house anticipated to be completed by the end of February.

Located at the Katiyo Estate in the Honde Valley, this initiative is a key contributor to Zimbabwe’s ambitious goal of a USD1 billion horticulture export industry by 2030.

Mr. Brendon Scott, Chief Operations Officer of Cicada Agriculture, provided insights into the development, stating that the refurbished Katiyo Tea factory is being transformed into an avocado grading and packing facility with an enhanced processing capacity of 4,000kg per hour.

He added, “It has cold room capacity of 200 tons, and phase 1 will be completed by February 2024, just in time for the 2024 April intake. Phase 2 will take place in 2029 to double the throughput as the orchard matures.”

The Cicada Katiyo pack house, certified under the Global Good Agronomic Practice (Global GAP), is dedicated solely to packing avocado fruits.

This project aligns with Cicada Agriculture’s broader vision to expand its out-grower program for avocado trees in the Honde Valley region.

The Horticulture Development Council (HDC), the local horticulture promotion board, affirmed the progress in a recent post on its X platform, noting, “Cicada’s Katiyo Estate, Honde Valley, construction of a new packhouse just in time for the next avocado harvest.”

The HDC emphasized that this development underscores Zimbabwe’s substantial potential for horticulture growth, citing Cicada’s significant role as the country’s largest banana producer supporting farmers throughout-grower schemes.

Zimbabwe’s horticulture sector is on a trajectory to meet the annual 30 percent growth recommended by the HDC’s inaugural horticulture investment forum in 2021.

However, the second edition of the forum revealed that the country’s earnings from the horticulture sector currently stand at approximately USD120 million per year.

The avocado sub-section, a crucial contributor to this growth, is projected to expand its hectarage from 1,260 to 4,000 hectares to reach the USD1 billion target by 2030.

Achieving this goal requires a USD96 million investment in the avocado sub-section to yield an annual output of 24,000 tons.

The HDC’s quarterly reports for June 2023 and September 2023 provided insights into the challenges and progress of the sector.

While export volumes slightly dipped to 4,610 tons in 2023 compared to the previous year, the anticipated maturation of younger orchards is expected to boost production to 7,000 tons over the next two years.

The reports highlighted increased production costs due to fuel price hikes and pricing pressures resulting from significant avocado volumes from Peru entering the European Union market from April to July 2023.

In response to these challenges, the HDC has recommended government intervention to support the completion of trade protocols with China and India, aiming to fortify the industry and boost the national economy.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency indicate a positive trend in avocado exports, rising from 5 million kg in 2020 to 9 million kg in 2022.

The construction of the Cicada Katiyo pack house stands as a testament to Zimbabwe’s commitment to fostering growth in its horticulture sector, paving the way for a thriving export industry.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.