Bullish Ariston projects 31% growth in tea output

LISTED agriculture concern, Ariston Holdings, says enough preparations have made it bullish about the prospects for 2018 forecasting tea production to grow by 31%.

BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

Chief executive Paul Timothy Spear told NewsDay at the sidelines of the company’s annual general meeting in Harare on Tuesday the agro-concern was projecting an optimal output and the new dispensation had also helped in solving issues that has been bedevilling the company.

“It looks like this year we are going to achieve pretty much optimal results for several major products. It’s just a question of doing our work properly no magic,” he said.

… we had a good season and we have been able to do the preparations that mean enough equipment, enough fertiliser, getting everything organised so there is nothing complicated but it’s more of doing our jobs properly. We are approaching levels of productivity that we should have been at for some time.”

Spear said tea production was projected to grow to 3 200 from 2 435 tonnes, macadamia output is envisaged to increase to 1 350 tonnes from 1 280 tonnes and banana output will nearly double to

1 400 tonnes from 790 tonnes.

Poultry production is anticipated to shore up to one million tonnes from 744 000 tonnes, whereas pome fruit is seen growing to 1 427 tonnes from 1 133 tonnes.

Spear said the current political dispensation was helping in stemming the theft of macadamia in Chipinge as well as solving the Kent land issue.

“It’s (new dispensation) definitely helping. There seem to be any interest in our problems continuing. There is a lot more activities from the authorities which more beneficial to us,” he said.

Spear said limitation of forex means that exported products are expensive, leaving local products unattractive.

Last year, the company’s revenue shot up to $10,9 million from $9,1 million in 2016. Total debt grew by 22% to $15 million to $12 million in 2016.

Spear hailed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s move announced in the 2018 monetary policy to shore up the export incentive of horticulture products to 10%. This comes after export tea sales improved 17% to 1 365 tonnes in 2017 with local tea sales improving by 16% to 1 022 tonnes.

“The incentive was welcome greater effect is evident in further growth of export sales in season ahead,” he said.

Spear said international tea pricing firmed resulting in the group achieving a 12% increase in average export selling price where as local tea prices went up 6% in the period under review.

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