ZIMBABWE – Citrus farmers in the Tuli area, renowned for their local orange supply, are now eyeing global markets with excitement.

The prospect of exporting their produce to Europe, China, and the United States has sparked newfound enthusiasm among the farming community.

With over 160,000 citrus trees flourishing in Tuli farms, the anticipated tonnage per harvest is poised to significantly reduce Zimbabwe’s hefty importation bill, which reached USD 23.7 million in 2022.

During a recent tour organized by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), farm owners expressed their elation at the government’s commitment to investing in citrus farming.

Anne Schoeman, Manager of African Ranch 5 (AR5), emphasized the potential benefits of initiatives like the Selibe Phikwe Citrus project facilitated by BITC and SPEDU.

“We stand to greatly benefit from the establishment of the Selibe Phikwe Citrus project,” she remarked.

The Selibe Phikwe Citrus project, inaugurated by President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi in December 2020, spans 1500ha and boasts an impressive plantation of 810,000 citrus trees.

Projected to yield 70,000 tons annually, it marks a significant stride towards bolstering the country’s citrus industry.

AR5, rooted in Sherwood since 1997, has invested P100 million in its operations and currently employs 150 dedicated staff members.

Anne Schoeman, whose family has owned the farm for over 80 years, remains optimistic about the future despite industry challenges.

“We might reduce our potato planting next year due to increased competition, but we’re not solely reliant on oranges,” she explained.

AR5’s horticulture division encompasses 240ha of potatoes, 16ha of onions, and an impressive 25,000 ha of citrus trees.

Nearby lies Kwadiwa Ranch, owned by Mario van Rooyen, a seasoned citrus farmer from South Africa.

With plans for expansion and a keen eye on international markets, Kwadiwa Ranch anticipates its first harvest in May.

“Together with the Phikwe project, we’re targeting markets in Europe, Asia, and America,” Rooyen affirmed.

The farm anticipates over 300 tons from its planted hectares, with plans to double this figure in the next ploughing season.

With ambitious visions and significant milestones on the horizon, the Selebi Phikwe Citrus project is not merely about trees; it’s about fostering economic growth and community development.

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