HANAWA Super Foods has contracted over 1 000 farmers to grow potatoes as it moves to cut imports, a company official said.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
The potato crisp manufacturer’s executive chairman Larry Mavima told NewsDay that the company has now embarked in an outgrowers’ scheme with farmers.
“So we need to produce so many tonnes of potatoes throughout the year. We have increased potato hectarage by 450 hectares. We have identified small-scale growers in Nyanga — over a thousand of them who are producing specifically for Hanawa Super Foods — so what it means is that there are jobs that have been created as result of Hanawa coming into the market,” he said.
Apart from Nyanga, Mavima said contracted farmers were producing the peculiar variety of potatoes in Midlands, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East provinces.
“What’s critical about this business is that it’s not just about production of chips. We use a special variety of potatoes. A lot of people in this country don’t grow those potatoes. So what we have done is, we have started our out growers scheme where we have identified farmers whom we give offtake agreements,” he said.
“We are working with them as a group, in conjunction with banks who are providing the funding. We have agronomists who offer technical agronomical support.”
Mavima said the company would make sure it nips in the bud the practice of side marketing.
“Side marketing will always be a problem in Zimbabwe, but we will try to keep our communications with our farmers as alive as possible to avoid side marketing. Our agronomists will meet every farmer to make sure they don’t side market,” he added.
Besides crisp manufacturing, Mavima said the company would diversify into other food products in the near future.
In July, Potato Growers’ Association chairperson Jacs Chiduku told members of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Indigenisation that potato production was capital-intensive, adding it costs $12 000 just to grow one hectare of potatoes.
In May, Hanawa Super Foods said it sought to import 1 200 tonnes of potatoes from May to September 2017.
Potato crisps have an estimated local demand of 250 tonnes per month.
Currently, Cairns Foods’ flagship potato crisps product, Chompkins, is dominating the market share.