SOUTHERN AFRICA – HarvestFresh, a large commercial fresh produce agro-processor in South Africa and a member of the Thebe Investment Corporation Group of companies, has launched a new processing facility, doubling its production capacity.

The increase in capacity of the processing facilities seeks to enable the company keep up with growing demand of its produce mainly from its major clients i.e. Freshmark, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Spar, among others.

Situated in Meyerton in the Midvaal District Municipality, HarvestFresh was founded in 1994 by George and Tracey Maxted, and has since become a major supplier of quality fresh produce in South Africa.

Their main product is ready-to-eat leafy green vegetables and salads i.e., lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spring onions, leeks, and herbs.

Most of the produce is grown in soil from seven different locations while the remainder is hydroponically grown.

The company is a significant contributor to job opportunities as it employs over 500 full time employees. An additional 250 seasonal workers are hired depending on seasonality requirements.

The recently launched processing facility is envisaged to provide more permanent jobs over the next few years with the goal of also supporting more small-scale farmers.

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, Toppick Investments, has ploughed US$5.5 million in a massive citrus production project at its Zhovhe Farm in Beitbridge, which will see the planting of 277 000, orange trees over the next three years.

The investment has been channelled towards setting up irrigation infrastructures to boost production. So far, the company has laid down a 9km by 500mm irrigation pipeline on the farm.

In addition, the investment has seen the importation of the citrus propagating materials from South Africa.

“So far, we have planted orange trees of the Benny Valencia, Turkey, and Midnight varieties on 700 hectares. These are one and a half years old. We expect to start harvesting in the fifth year,” said Zhovhe Farm manager, Mr Mthulisi Sibanda.

Mr Sibanda said planting was ongoing on the remaining 400 hectares and that other than focusing on orange production only, the farm had grown a total 20 000 lemon trees and that they will introduce more citrus varieties in the near future.

To augment power supplies the company is working on setting up a solar power plant and constructing a modern sorting shed for grading citrus produce before taking them to the market.

At the moment, the company has upgraded their electricity transformer from 315kv to 1000kv. Since starting operations around 2015, the company has acquired 17 irrigation pivots to enhance crop production throughout the year.

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