Mazoe Citrus Estate grab leaves Interfresh on back foot

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ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed agro-industrial concern Interfresh Limited has warned of a 30% slump in revenue after government acquired a huge portion of the citrus estate, blighting the company’s hopes of returning to profitability.

Report by Bernard Mpofu Chief Business Reporter

This development could throw hundreds of farm labourers onto the streets and cut supplies for downstream industries, which rely on citrus syrup extracted from the estate.

Interfresh has been traditionally a key supplier of citrus syrup for some of the country’s beverage makers.

According to a notice to shareholders issued yesterday, Interfresh, whose financial year ended on December 31, said its topline forecasts could be affected by this development.

The estate, according to Interfresh, currently has lemons.

The government embarked on an agrarian reform programme at the turn of the millennium that has resulted in erstwhile communal farmers taking over the commercial farms owned by white farmers.

“Shareholders are advised that the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement has advised the company that a portion of the land measuring 1 599,7 hectares, which was part of Mazoe Citrus Estates (MCE), has been allocated to another party,” said company secretary Tawanda Namusi in a statement.

“This portion of land represents 46% of MCE’s total arable land, 30% of its budgeted revenue for the financial year 2013 and 52% of the value of immovable and biological assets.”

Last year, the group announced that it was on course to return to profitability after restructuring its operations in the prior year.

The company in 2011 sold its head office in Graniteside to retire its short-term debt and sustain business.

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