THE STATUS OF THE AGRO-PROCESSING INDUSTRY IN ZIMBABWE WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES



Abstract
The objectives of this study were to develop and present a detailed and clear picture of what small and medium agro-processing systems require to effectively manufacture and market processed products; and to review agro-processing service provision, research and extension linkages in Zimbabwe.  The study was implemented through a desk-review of literature focusing on commodity-specific cases of agro-processing enterprises.  Informal discussions with key players in agro-processing were also conducted.


Prior to Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, manufacturing, distribution and sales of agro-processing equipment as well as processing of commercial agricultural products have been a preserve of the large scale conglomerate companies. In the mid-1990s, there was rapid growth of both formal and informal small and medium scale manufacturers of equipment; a trend that could be attributed to the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) implemented by the government then. This was characterised by a dramatic increase in small and medium scale agro-processing enterprises. A wider variety of processed food and non-food products became available on the market.

Despite the resultant increase in the number of agro-processors and the employment opportunities thereby created, the current market forces and the prevailing economic environment tend to favour more growth of medium scale enterprises by down-sizing of large scale processing systems and upgrading of small scale processing enterprises. The loss of business by large-scale processors has led to massive retrenchments and even closure of factories whilst women clubs got disempowered by loss of individual and co-operative agro-processing enterprises.

The Zimbabwe agro-processing industry plays a vital role in the national economic development and has potential to meet the local needs and export requirements. The supporting infrastructure for this industry in terms of electricity supply, through the government-funded rural electrification programme, and road and telecommunication network, is well established. There are also well established skills training programmes in manufacturing (tool making, welding), for rural artisans and users. However, the sector currently faces many challenges emanating from the poor performance of the national economy, uncertainties that exist over access to both local and foreign finances, limited research, limited technical advice, limited marketing information and lack of reliable markets.

Key lessons that emerged from the study are that equipment ownership (individuals, farmer groups or entrepreneurs) has been left for people to decide without adequate technical advice. Equipment costs are beyond the reach of individuals and the prevailing economic environment favours technology access rather than ownership.  One survival strategy being adopted by many large-scale processors is sub-contracting medium-scale processors that meet the required standards, to supply processed products in bulk for large-scale companies to pack and market.

Literature on small and medium scale agro-processing often leaves out meat, mopani worm, fish and non-food products such as hides and skins, timber and medicinal plants.  However, some people may argue that the areas of timber and medicinal plants are more into natural resources than agro-processing.  Documented studies are commodity-based such as grain milling, vegetable oil pressing. The case study helped to collate and synthesise the scattered literature.

A key PHILA process learning is that there is hidden agro-processing information and expertise among technocrats that has been deliberately kept unpublished for commercial purposes and people are reluctant to share this information.  Studies of this type require good connectivity to be able to access relevant and up-to-date information.


1.   Introduction

One of the major policies of the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) at independence in 1980 was “Growth with Equity” aimed at eliminating previous economic and social disparities which existed along the racial divide. Although considerable effort has been made towards social and economic stabilisation over the years, limited progress has been made in achieving equitable distribution and growth in agro-industrial development. The fast track land redistribution that the GoZ implemented in 2000-2, has benefited thousands of indigenous farmers who received land allocations under the resettlement models A1[1] and A2.[2] The resettlement exercise is expected to increase levels of agricultural production as under-utilised land in large commercial farms is opened up for farming activities, communal areas are de-congested and farm sizes are reduced to manageable sizes. The World Food Programme has reported that the area planted to cereals increased by 9% in the 2004/05 season with maize increasing by 14% due to expansion of farming land (Elich, 2005).  Though the new local farmers are currently battling to raise production amid lack of funding, agricultural inputs and commercial farming skills, given enough time there should be an increase in productivity. Research has established that productivity increases exponentially with decrease in farm size in all natural regions of Zimbabwe (Elich, 2005).

As increased agricultural production is envisaged, there is need to have proportionate improvement in the agro-processing industry.  Agro-processing industries refer to those activities that transform agricultural commodities into different forms that add value to the product. Agro-processing industries, especially food manufacturing, tobacco and textile processing dominate the commercial industrial sector of Zimbabwe. These are mainly owned by multinational conglomerate companies with interest in farm produce supplied by large-scale commercial farmers. For example, Cairns Foods Company is the largest food processing company in Zimbabwe. The company requires a minimum of 100 tonnes of groundnuts per year for peanut butter processing and a small proportion of that is produced by small-scale farmers. The company’s demand for potatoes and fruits (guava, pineapple, mangoes etc) is largely met by large-scale commercial growers (Acquah, 1997). At present, the small-scale farmers are not organised or prepared to produce for such large-scale processing companies. However, they are for other commodities such as cotton through the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (CottCo).

Small-scale farming in Zimbabwe rarely provides sufficient means of survival in many rural areas. It is therefore imperative to explore alternative income generating opportunities to support poor families who can no longer fend for themselves from the land-based activities alone. Recent research demonstrates that rural households depend on a diverse portfolio of activities and income sources. Some households are looking towards activities such as food processing as a means to enhance the livelihood they can achieve from a limited area of land (Simalenga, 1996).

Small-scale food processing activities represent a potential source of livelihood for many poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa. The overall potential of agro-processing is huge as it can:
  • Increase the value of crops of poor farmers and thus yield higher returns;
  • Expand marketing opportunities;
  • Improve livelihoods of people;
  • Extend shelf-life of commodities;
  • Improve palatability of commodities;
  • Enhance food security;
  • Overcome seasonality and perishability constraints; and
  • Empower women who are often involved in agro-processing.

In Sub Saharan Africa, it is estimated that 60% of the labour force find part of its work in small-scale food processing enterprises and the majority are women (ITDG, 2005).  The greatest potential growth in small-scale agro-industries is in fruit and vegetable processing as many horticultural producers experience problems in marketing of fresh produce such as lack of readily available marketing information and lack of market integration, lack of data on supply and demand trends and prices, reliance on spot or road-side markets, transport constraints and spoilage (Mhazo et al., 2003, Boyd et. al, 1997).  Adoption of improved and validated food processing technologies, enforcement of good standards of quality and hygiene and regulatory instruments may assist local small- and medium-scale agro-industries to compete favourably in the market place. Small to medium scale enterprises are those organisations with a total fixed capital base, excluding land, that does not exceed five billion Zimbabwe Dollars (equivalent to US$66 667) and employ not more than 75 permanent employees (Personal communication; Small Enterprise Development Corporation, Zimbabwe).

However, research has shown that a number of factors may constrain the ability of small- and medium-scale agro-based enterprises to effectively manufacture and market processed food products.
·           On a macro level, many policies implemented by governments have served to hinder the development of small-scale industries (Dawson, 1994; Simalenga, 1996).
·           At the firm level, limited access to credit (Chakwera, 1996); limited access to foreign currency (Nazare, 2005); lack of appropriate technologies (McPherson, 1996; Mugova, 1996); lack of technological capability; the unreliable supply of raw materials (Mosha, 1983); lack of management skills (Odunfa, 1995); poor product quality control (Jaffee, 1993); and poor markets, amongst other things, have constrained the development of small-scale industries.
These problems apply to many developing countries and are particularly applicable to Zimbabwe.

The purpose of the current study is to develop and present a detailed but clear picture of what the present agro-processing systems (small, medium and large with emphasis on the medium-scale) require to effectively manufacture and market processed food products. The main areas of interest included considering the service provision, linkages with research and extension, demand-led services, agro-processing technologies, farmer empowerment, policy implementation, gender issues and government vision.


2.   Agro-processing Definitions

Agro-processing activities comprise two major categories; primary and secondary operations. Primary processing operations involve activities such as crop drying, shelling/threshing, cleaning, grading, and packaging. These activities are mainly carried out at the farm and only transform the commodity into a slightly different form prior to storage, marketing or further processing. Secondary processing operations entail increasing nutritional or market value of the commodity and the physical form or appearance of the commodity is often totally changed from the original. Some examples of secondary processing are milling grain into flour, grinding groundnuts into peanut butter, pressing oil out of vegetable seeds, pressing juice out of fruit, making cheese out of milk and manufacturing of mince meat. Depending on type of commodity, equipment needed for primary processing is completely different from that used in secondary processing or major adjustments/modifications need to be done to suit either. 


3.   Agro-processing Equipment Supply Chain

Historically, formal manufacturing, distribution and sales of agro-processing equipment have been a preserve of conglomerate companies such as Precision Grinders, G. North and Son (Pvt) Ltd and Zimplow Limited.  Processing systems were split into manual tools and machines for small-scale users (mainly for communal farmers) and motorised equipment for large-scale processors. Since the mid 1990s, many new small- to medium-scale formal and informal manufacturers entered the market resulting in a dramatic increase in medium-scale motorised systems for processing food crops. It is now possible at medium-scale level to process cereals into various flours and stock feeds, groundnuts into peanut butter, sunflower, cotton and soybeans into edible oil and fruits and vegetables into jams, pulps, juices, pastes, sauces, pickles, and confectionery products.

Some of the major manufacturers of primary processing equipment in Zimbabwe are presented in Table 1. The range of processing equipment is limited to manual and motorised shellers/threshers for cereals and pulses. Most of the manufacturing activities are located in Harare, Norton and Bulawayo with distribution networks in the major cities, towns and Growth Points or Rural Service Centres (RSCs). The local industries have the capacity to manufacture complete shellers/threshers. However, for motorised equipment, the sources of power (electric motors and engines) have to be imported from South Africa and/or Asia. This obviously has a negative bearing on the availability and final cost of motorised equipment as foreign currency supplies in the country are limited. The major consumers of primary processing equipment are individual farmers or farmer groups and private contractors.

Table 1: The major manufacturers and distributors of primary processing equipment in Zimbabwe.

Company
Location
Retail outlets
Product range and Power source
Product sourcing
Practical Action*
Harare
Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare
Manual and motorised shellers, threshers
In-house manufacturing
G. North and Son
Harare
Harare
Manual and motorised shellers, threshers; winnowers
In-house manufacturing
Tanroy Engineering
Harare
Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo
Motorised multi-crop shellers and threshers
In-house manufacturing
Zimbabwe Oil Press Project (ZOPP)
Harare
Harare, Rusape, Mutare
Manual groundnut shellers
Subcontracting the informal manufacturers
Hastt Zimbabwe
Norton
Harare, Norton
Tractor PTO-driven crop shellers and threshers
In-house manufacturing
Precision Grinders
Harare
Harare
Motorised/PTO-driven multi-crop threshers, manual shellers.
In-house manufacturing and importation
Zimplow Ltd.
Bulawayo
Harare, Bulawayo
Manual groundnut shellers
In-house manufacturing
Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Ministry of Agriculture
Harare
Harare
Multi-crop threshers,
Manual groundnut shellers
In-house manufacturing
*formerly Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG)

The growth of secondary agro-processing in Zimbabwe is quite evident in the rapid rise in numbers of equipment manufacturing companies, dramatic increase in processing enterprises and the widespread availability of various processed foods on both the formal and informal market. Growth has been greater in the small- and medium-scale enterprises than the large-scale sector; for example there has been a huge increase in millers of maize and other cereals, processors of peanut butter, manufacturers of livestock feeds and soybean products. Five of the seven major manufacturers of secondary processing equipment listed in Table 2 were established in the last decade.


Table 2: The major manufacturers and distributors of secondary processing equipment in Zimbabwe.

Company
Location
Retail outlets
Product range
Renox
Harare
Harare
Vegetable oil mills, cereal grinding mills, dehullers, peanut butter mills
Intermediate Technology
Harare
Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare
Vegetable oil mills, cereal grinding mills, Manual and motorised peanut butter mills
Appropriate Technology Africa
Harare
Harare, Mutare
Vegetable oil mills, cereal grinding mills, dehullers, manual and motorised peanut butter mills, motorised juice extractor
Tanroy Engineering
Harare
Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo
Vegetable oil mills, cereal grinding mills, dehullers, groundnut roasters, Manual and motorised peanut butter mills, cassava and sweet potato chippers.
Zimbabwe Oil Press Project (ZOPP)
Harare
Harare, Rusape, Mutare
Vegetable oil mills, groundnut roasters, Manual and motorised peanut butter mills
Precision Grinders
Harare
Harare
Cereal grinding mills, dehullers,  Manual and motorised peanut butter mills, mixers
Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Ministry of Agriculture
Harare
Harare
Cereal grinding mills, dehullers, Motorised peanut butter mills,
Stainless Steel Products.
Harare
Harare, Bulawayo
Industrial pots, steam pots, pasteurizers, meat mincers, sausage makers, blenders, bakery ovens, potato chippers and peelers, mixers

There is clear evidence of widespread activities in manufacturing of cereal flour, peanut butter and animal feeds as indicated by the increased number of manufacturers of related equipment. This development should in theory lead to a wider choice of equipment and a level of competition that would benefit the consumers (Nazare, 2005). It is however, important to point out that while there are many players in the manufacturing sector; variety in equipment design is very limited. Most of the manufacturers rely heavily on procuring equipment and/or components of equipment from Asia as well as the local formal and informal outlets. This approach may result in poor equipment quality control and certainly results in limited consumer choice.  Ultimately, there are also costs associated with fixing poor quality machines when they break down.  Nonetheless, the positive side of it is that it reduces the cost of tooling for individual manufacturers, may guarantee inter-changeability of spares among equipment from different manufacturers and creates employment for the locals.


4.   Research and Development

Development of agro-processing equipment has not received the level of research support it deserves. There are limited and isolated research efforts in the private sector. In the public sector, budgets for Research and Development have been cut down drastically and furthermore there is a critical shortage of qualified research staff to carry out the work. However, considerable research in the development of crop shellers, threshers, vegetable oil mills, peanut butter mills and crop dryers has been conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) through the Institute of Agricultural Engineering, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and ENDA Zimbabwe since 1990.  Useful research results have been generated but extension of the results to the private sector (manufacturers) and farmers has generally been poor.

UZ usually works in partnership with the private sector in equipment manufacturing. Transfer of technologies to end-users is facilitated by the linkages that exist between the university and the public sector and NGOs. Involvement of students in various research activities also helps in the dissemination of research results.  The development and extension of the peanut butter technology has been a major success story for the Development Technology Centre (DTC) at the UZ.   Technology manufacturing and marketing is now fully market-driven. However, there are issues surrounding intellectual property rights and patenting which are not in place.  Many a time, technology generated by academic or public sector research organisations ends up being used for commercial purposes without due recognition of the people involved in knowledge development.

There is no evidence of real budgets for research and development in the private sector save for Precision Grinders, Hastt Zimbabwe and Practical Action that have established research and development divisions. Others depend on technology importation (plus adaptations) and research results from local work.


5.   Extension and training

Training in agro-processing is at three levels; manufacturers, distributors and end-users who are either farmers or entrepreneurs. Training in manufacturing techniques is not a limitation in Zimbabwe. Training of artisans (tool makers, welders, fitter and turners, sheet metal workers etc) is well established and of high standard. Training Institutions such as Silveira House, Glen Forest, Hlekweni Friends, the Institute of Agricultural Engineering of MoA offer training in blacksmithing targeted at rural artisans. Rural blacksmiths carry out minor repairs on equipment at local level. However, most of these institutions are operating below normal capacity due to financial constraints or high staff turn-over.

There is very limited training offered to distributors as basic knowledge about the operations of equipment is frequently missing at points of sale.  This is often exacerbated by lack of operational manuals on some products. Where attempts are made to provide manuals, they sometimes lack necessary assembling and trouble-shooting details.

Very few small- and medium-scale agro-processors have received formal training in food processing techniques.  Most of the formal training support for small-scale food processors has been provided by Ranche House College with funds provided under a Dutch-funded programme called “Food Processing as a Small Business” (Mhazo et al., 2003).  The training included solar drying of fruits and vegetables, technical and business skills, and entrepreneurship and financial access and management.

MoA has a mandate to disseminate research outputs to farmers and other clients via the Department of Agricultural Engineering and Technical Services which is represented at provincial level and more recently, in some districts.  However, coverage at ground level is not as good as the Department of Agricultural Research and Extension (AREX) which is responsible for the conventional agricultural extension.  Most AETS staff have generally failed to keep abreast of current technology development trends in agro-processing and their capacity to provide technical, training and advisory services is limited.

Private sector manufacturers have their own marketing and extension strategies driven mainly by their own staff particularly at forums such as agricultural shows (at various levels) and the Zimbabwe International Trade Fairs.  Training for end-users is provided in a number of ways comprising short duration demonstrations offered by sales personnel, formal and informal skills training and technical training offered during installation and commissioning of equipment.


6.   Constraints in the agro-processing industry

Zimbabwe is currently going through a critical economic recession. International development assistance to the country has declined in real terms. Given this scenario, it is necessary for Zimbabwe to develop innovative strategies to complement dwindling donor participation in fostering industrial development.

Growth of the agro-processing industry is hampered by various constraints that range from equipment supply to problems faced by consumers of the technologies. In the manufacturing sector, progress is limited by:
  • Difficulties in accessing foreign currency;
  • Reduced demand for equipment as most clients fail to mobilize resources to acquire equipment;
  • Limited transfer of technology from research;
  • Limited access to working capital;
  • High duty and tax on imported raw material and spares. In some cases the government policies on duty and taxes charged on imported equipment discourage local manufacturing. For example industrialists are charged value added tax (VAT) on imported materials used in the manufacturing process yet the finished piece of equipment is sold without VAT making it impossible to recover costs. The manufacturers get frustrated when they pay high duty and taxes on raw materials while the competing finished products are imported at low duty; and
  • The manufacturing sector has also been characterised by poor quality products, especially from the informal sector, as the enforcement of standards has not been effective. The prevalence of substandard equipment on the market at times forces the government to create conditions for importation of high quality products to protect the consumers.

Agro-processors face numerous constraints including:
  • Poor equipment back-up service rendered by dealers, shortages and high cost of equipment and spares;
  • Limited access to information from extension service;
  • Limited access to appropriate packaging material for processed products, lack of marketing skills;
  • Inadequate support services from training institutions, private sector consultants, small enterprise advisors, research institutions and engineering workshops;
  • Erratic supply and increased cost of fuel coupled with frequent power cuts;
  • Unreliable supply of raw materials, reduced demand for processed food products;
  • Poor cash flow emanating from low volumes of raw materials hence low income is realised from processing;
  • Failure to meet food processing regulations pertaining to food safety and hygiene practices which need to be adhered to in the industry. Attention to hygiene and basic food safety procedures is found, at times, to be limited among informal enterprises. Knowledge of specific regulations and legislation governing food safety and hygiene issues is only evident among those processors who market their product through formal outlets. The required costs of meeting the Standard Association of Zimbabwe regulations are viewed by the more informal processors as prohibitive (Mhazo et al., 2003);
  • High cost of processing equipment; and
  • Limited capacity to mobilise capital for equipment purchase and working capital.

Constraints faced by producers of raw material include:
  • Frequent droughts resulting in crop failure;
  • Current high costs of production inputs (seed, fertilizer, chemicals etc.) resulting in a decline in the levels of production hence shortages of raw material.  This factor together with the preceding one could have a compound effect;
  • Lack of funding and unfavourable borrowing conditions; and
  • Lack of commercial farming skills.

7.   Opportunities in the agro-processing industry development

Agro-processing opportunities in Zimbabwe currently tend to favour growth and development of medium-scale processing industries that match the current production levels and the distortions in marketing of produce. Market forces and the prevailing economic environment favour more down-sizing of large-scale processing systems and upgrading small-scale processing industries.   This is mainly due to the fact that the demand for raw materials by large-scale manufacturers is currently not being met due to low national production levels hence the enterprises are operating below capacity. This has resulted in scaling down of business, massive staff retrenchments and/or closure of factories. For example Aroma Bakeries in Harare sold their peanut butter business (equipment and franchise) to a medium-scale processor. Some large-scale operators contemplate sub-contracting small and medium processors who can meet their set standards. The contractor would provide packaging materials and take responsibilities for transporting and marketing the product. This arrangement shifts raw material sourcing and processing risks away from the large-scale processor.

Small-scale enterprises which are characterised by use of manual equipment are losing business to the medium-scale as the latter use motorised equipment which have advantages of both higher capacity and efficiency. Manual equipment is either abandoned or upgraded to match the demand. Examples are: (i) the rapid obsolescence of manual sunflower oil presses in the 1990s following the importation of motorised multi-crop oil expellers from Asia and (ii) the current requests by peanut butter processors to upgrade manual mills by installing motors. Small-scale processors who cannot afford to improve their processing systems are likely to get out of business.

The merits and de-merits of the development/expansion of medium-scale enterprises are summarised in Table 3.  Generally, it appears that currently, there are more merits than demerits in going for the medium-scale enterprises.

Table 3:  Summary of merits and demerits of the medium-scale agro-processing enterprises.

Merits
Demerits
Empowerment of women’s clubs through increased throughput
Dis-empowerment of individual women through loss of business opportunities
Decentralisation of industries resulting in employment creation

Improved adherence to manufacturing regulations and standardisation of equipment

Provision of service processing facilities and relieving small-scale processors of the burden of equipment operation and maintenance
Rapid obsolescence of manual equipment leading to loss of capital investment.
Improved chances of standardisation of equipment

Improve planning and time management by clients who would otherwise budget time for processing activities
Loss of business by large scale processors, scaling down of operations, massive retrenchments, closure of factories
The poor may be able to access custom processing as even small quantities can still be service processed for household consumption without investing into the processing equipment.
Loss of business by small scale processors
Creation of local markets for producers of raw material which could stimulate local production

Higher chances of formalisation of businesses and competition among processors which could lead to improved revenue to central government and reduced prices for consumers respectively


There is great potential in the development of medium-scale grain milling, bread-making enterprises, livestock feed manufacturing, peanut butter and vegetable oil processing as opportunities of market entry by medium-scale entrepreneurs increase. Fruit and vegetable processing and preservation offer a new viable opportunity though more effort needs to be put into product promotion and marketing. For example Lamin and Son in Nyanga started processing a wide range of fruits as a pastime but later expanded into a medium-scale factory capable of producing half a tonne of dried products per day for both domestic and export markets (Acquah, 1997). There are widespread shortages of fruits and vegetables in the drier parts of the country yet during peak production periods there is a glut and large amounts of fruits and vegetables are put to waste. Fruits can be processed into pulps/juices, wine, jams, jelly, marmalade, pickles, dried products and confectionery items.

Small and medium-scale agro-processing industries at RSCs are strategically located to take advantage of both raw material and local markets. The dominant activities in RSCs are cereal milling, peanut butter milling, and vegetable oil processing. There are also opportunities for fruit and vegetable drying, canning, bottling, juicing and freezing in the RSCs (Price Water House, 1994). Equipment required for small-scale fruit processing is based on the usual home kitchen gadgets including stoves, pots, knives and spoons which are widely available in hardware shops around the country. For medium-scale enterprises, more specialised equipment such as stainless industrial boilers, pulpers, pasteurizers and canning machines become necessary. These are again available from Stainless Steel Industries and Ag-Venture respectively. The Development Technology Centre of the University of Zimbabwe reported limited awareness of the Zimbabwean market to dried fruit products as a constraint to the uptake of solar dryers (Nazare, 2005).

One less developed area and normally not addressed in post-harvest discussions is that of processing of meat and fish for preservation and value addition. With the current high costs of commercial products, consumers turn to informal sources of beef, chicken, pork and fish.  Small to medium-scale handling, processing and packaging of meat into value added products such as sausages and dried meat deserve greater attention. Meat mincers and sausage makers are available in the country. Slaughtering of the animals is predominantly manual using axes and knives. Mechanized plucking machines for removing chicken feathers are known to exist but are rarely used at small and medium-scale.

Common utilities such as roads/rail, power, water and communication are vital to the development of industries in both rural and urban areas. Most of these are well-developed in Zimbabwe. However, electricity which is an important element to agro-processing and rural engineering is not yet readily available in most rural areas despite the GoZ-driven accelerated rural electrification programme currently underway.

8.   Specific cases of small- to medium-scale agro-processing enterprises in Zimbabwe.
A sample of commodity-specific case studies of agro-processing enterprises is given in the following sections.

Case 1: Processing of cereals

The hammer mill has revolutionised cereal processing into flour in both rural and urban areas.  The technology can be easily combined with a dehuller to produce pearl flour preferred by most urban dwellers or to enhance palatability of small grains widely produced in the semi-arid areas of the country.  The introduction of dehullers has been largely perceived as one intervention that can alleviate the drudgery women undergo when processing small grains using the traditional pestle and mortar to remove the bran followed by grinding on a stone mill to produce the flour.  Considering the HIV/AIDS pandemic which has hit the country, and the general labour shortage in most rural areas, traditional processing of cereals, especially small grains, has become a formidable challenge.

With the persistent shortages of fuel in the country, many people in rural areas have to walk as far as 20km to access grinding mills running on electricity instead of the more usual diesel.  This is particularly problematic in areas not yet reached by the GoZs’ rural electrification programme.


Case 2: Oil seed processing

There is critical shortage of vegetable oil in Zimbabwe. The little stock that trickles in is too expensive for most Zimbabwean families. Oil expression has mainly been from sunflower seed using manual ram presses at the lowest level or motorised systems at the medium-scale level.  Sunflower is a drought-tolerant, low management crop, which can be grown by many rural households to supply rural entrepreneurs.

One entrepreneur can own several ram presses operated by people specifically employed to press the seed and who are paid based on the quantity of oil produced.  Mechanised oil expression is based on the Tiny Tech; a technology imported from Asia but now locally manufactured by several companies including Tanroy Engineering.  Most entrepreneurs are located at Rural Service Centres (RSCs) such as Gokwe, Shurugwi, Murombedzi, Chivi and Bikita

Key challenges associated with this enterprise include:
1.     Lack of back-up service and spare parts when these machines breakdown;
2.     Limited access to skills training for staff;
3.     The parts may be available but lack standardisation, making it difficult to access the compatible parts.  Rural entrepreneurs are forced to travel back to the source of the machine say in Harare;
4.     There have been 5 successive droughts in the country which has significantly reduced production; this means that sourcing of the pressing seed is an enormous challenge which requires entrepreneurial innovation;
5.     Low management capacity of entrepreneurs; and
6.     Inconsistent supply of raw materials which limit system capacity utilisation.

Another oilseed whose production is expanding rapidly despite the droughts is soyabean.  The crop is high in protein and can be processed into numerous products which can significantly improve the livelihoods of rural people. Some examples include manufacture of soya mince meat, oil, soya milk, soya yoghurt, baby feeds, stock feeds etc.  However for the oil extraction process, chemical methods are usually more efficient and need to be introduced in RSCs.


Case 3: Processing of root and tuber crops

Sweet potato utilisation is traditionally limited to consumption as a snack, dessert or a substitute for bread at breakfast, when the root is boiled.  However, the market is often flooded for up to three months, thereby depressing the prices and making the production of sweet potatoes a non-viable enterprise.  Most rural households are then forced to buy the conventional wheat bread, which is becoming increasingly unaffordable.  Since sweet potatoes are widely produced in the country by most smallholder farmers and the flour from the potatoes have been demonstrated to have the potential to partially substitute wheat flour (Nyakudya et al, 2004), this can help cut down on the wheat component which makes bread expensive.  In addition, Vitamin A deficiency is widespread in rural areas and yet certain sweet potato varieties are known to be rich in this nutrient.  The introduction of sweet potato flour may enhance accessibility of the rural poor to bread, many of whom can no longer afford the wheat-based bread.  Commercial processing of sweet potatoes into baking flour can stimulate production of the crop, increase incomes, improve food and nutritional security, and create employment opportunities, thereby helping to alleviate poverty in rural areas. In the long term, this might also be a strategic intervention at national level in that the much-needed foreign currency required to import supplementary wheat could be reduced. It can also increase rural incomes through marketing of the raw material when the processing enterprise creates a local demand for the sweet potatoes.

Appropriate processing systems at small-scale level have not yet been fully developed. There are various options of washing, peeling, slicing, drying and grinding the dried sweet potato chips. There are, however, still a number of questions regarding these processing techniques.  Previous researchers have noted a lack of information on sweet potato flour quality (Van Hal, 2000). The quality of flour is a function of the variety of the raw material used and processing system employed.

Mutungamiri et al. (2001) demonstrated that sweet potatoes can be processed into jam. Other by-products that can be derived from sweet potatoes include juice, ketchup and fresh chips.


Case 4: Peanut butter processing

Processing of groundnuts into peanut butter is a very important household activity in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. Peanut butter is used as a spread on bread, as an ingredient in soups or eaten as a snack and is an essential source of protein and fats in the diet of most Zimbabwean families. There is no need to add preservatives because heat produced during processing, destroys enzymes and microbial contaminants, and because of its relatively low moisture content, recontamination is inhibited (Fellows, 1997). The traditional processing method of first pounding roasted nuts with a pestle and mortar then fine grinding on a stone mill is characterised by high labour input, low throughput (Mhazo et al., 2002) and is often viewed as unhygienic. The problems associated with food quality, safety and hygiene limit the appeal of traditionally processed peanut butter particularly to the formal markets; hence reducing the income realised by processors.

The Development Technology Centre (DTC) introduced mechanised systems for peanut butter processing in 1996 and has since been working towards improvement of the systems. Both manual and motorised peanut butter mills and roasters are now locally manufactured and readily available on the market. Production systems for machines, packaging materials and the related accessories have been established and guidelines for equipment distribution and operation have been developed. Techniques have been developed for producing high quality and safe peanut butter. As the product is often not re-heated before consumption and since it is a low-acid product, strict hygiene rules for safe food handling should be observed. The new systems have tremendously increased the levels of production and quality of peanut butter by small and medium-scale entrepreneurs, even in urban areas.  The groundnuts should be completely and uniformly roasted before grinding to produce a good quality peanut butter. Under-roasting produces a poor flavour, whereas over-roasting results in a darkened product and burnt flavour.  The degree of grinding and size of the particles of the product depends on consumer preferences and in Zimbabwe a smooth paste has a higher market value. A great number of women groups are now able to supply the formal markets after meeting the high safety and quality standards set by the Standard Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ). A few enterprises have met export requirements to neighbouring countries.  A combination of adoption of the medium-scale processing technologies and low groundnut production levels has resulted in a shortage of the raw material for small-scale processors.

The major challenges in mechanisation of peanut butter processing are:
1.     The increase in cost of new machines and spares; especially burrs and electric motors;
2.     Lack of enforcement of manufacturing standards for processing equipment. This has resulted in consumers accessing substandard machines as these are normally low priced;
3.     Lack of equipment design patents hence unlicensed manufacturing;
4.     Reduced supply of groundnuts due to frequent droughts;
5.     Difficulties in attaining SAZ accreditation so as to access formal markets; and
7.     Increase in cost of packaging material.

Growth in the peanut butter medium enterprises is evidenced by the numerous brands found on the shelves of most local supermarkets.

Case 5: Fruit and vegetable drying

Fruits and vegetables play an important role in providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals which when deficient, can cause malnutrition (Utete and Tembo, 1996).  In the smallholder sector of Zimbabwe, fresh vegetables are available in large quantities in the dry season while fruits are abundant in the wet season. When production exceeds the family consumption needs and demand levels of the local markets, producers face huge problems in trying to access urban markets. These include lack of market information and marketing intelligence, high perishability of horticultural commodities and lack of refrigerated transport services and poor road networks. More often than not, high value produce is put to waste.

A wide variety of vegetables and fruits are processed into dried products and the majority of vegetables processed are indigenous varieties. Preservation relies on the removal of moisture by drying. An acid dip sulphur dioxide may also be used to reduce the number of contaminating micro-organisms (Fellows, 1997) but this is not commonly practised in Zimbabwe. Dried products are obtained from apple, mango, guava, banana, paw-paw, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, rape, covo, cowpea leaves, pumpkin leaves, mustard leaves and okra. It is more common to find dried vegetables rather than fruits on the vendors market.  For a significant number of processors, processing is a traditional activity adopted to enhance household food security during the agricultural off-season when access to fresh produce is limited. Some surplus may be sold locally to generate income. The few enterprises that produce the dried products at medium-scale, sell their products in the up-market shops and local tourist resort areas. The Murewa Food Processors’ Association is one of the few enterprises which exports small volumes of dried fruits, but it does not have firm contracts in export markets.

Most of the existing fruit and vegetable processors are informal in nature and range in size from small to medium. They are normally referred to as cottage industries as they operate from residential homes.  Drying of fruits is still a novel idea among both processors and local consumers. However, there is evident increase in the supply of processed fruits and vegetables as various such commodities are now available in the up-market shops in towns and tourist resort areas but in better quality.

There are, however, many constraints that may hinder development of small and medium-scale fruit and vegetable processing enterprises. These include:

1.     Reduced crop production levels as the costs of seed, fertilizers and chemicals have gone up. Small-scale producers also have limited access to fertile land and irrigation facilities.
2.     Lack of appropriate processing technology. Most of the processors use the usual home kitchen utensils as their basic equipment and sun-dry their fruits and vegetables. Grading, peeling and cutting are done by basic hand tools.  The vegetables are dried by spreading out cut and blanched/par-boiled pieces in thin layers on flat surfaces. There is lack of cold storage facilities to store raw or semi-processed products for use in the off season.
3.     Lack of access to appropriate packaging material for processed products especially for those enterprises who wish to market their products through the formal markets. Some enterprises resort to using recycled packaging materials but this raises food safety and hygiene concerns. 
4.     Poor marketing of products. Marketing of small-scale processed food products is largely informal. Enterprises located in rural areas rely on demand from local informal markets, which are small and unreliable. There is a general lack of marketing skills and information.
5.     Lack of appropriate training in food processing. A few processors have received formal training in food processing techniques.
6.     Failure to adhere to the general food safety requirements and hygiene practices as required by the food safety regulations.
7.     Lack of working capital as most processors experience poor cash flows.

There is however, potential to create viable business ventures in fruit and vegetable processing as long as appropriate processing equipment, processing skills, packaging material, and marketing information are made available.

Case 6: Juice extraction

Despite the high level of fruit production in many districts of Zimbabwe, there is food insecurity, poverty, hunger and malnutrition at household level. There is little processing of fruits at small or medium-scale level and farmers are losing out as they often sell their fresh fruits within a few weeks of harvesting at give-away prices. Recent case studies by the DTC (Mhazo et. al 2003) suggest that small-scale fruit and vegetable processing has potential to provide improved returns to horticultural producers as long as appropriate processing equipment, processing skills, packaging materials and marketing information are made available.

Pulps/juices can be made from almost any fully ripened fruit, but common types include apple, pineapple, orange, grapefruit, passion-fruit, guava and mango.  The pulping, filtering and pasteurising stages of the process should be monitored and controlled to produce a consistent product quality. As the product is acidic there is little risk of food poisoning, but normal hygiene practices should be enforced (Fellows, 1997). Currently juice extraction is being done by large companies such as Mazoe Citrus Estates. These big companies produce a juice concentrate which they sell to other companies for juice-making.

Most companies that produce the ready-to-drink juices operate at medium-scale level and do not procure the fruits directly for processing. They procure most of their juice concentrate from Mazoe Citrus Estates and blend it with ingredients like sugar, preservatives, citric acid, water, colorants and some flavours. This operation does not require heavy investment in equipment. The equipment that is needed is mainly cold rooms, storage tanks and mixing tanks. Products from these enterprises include Mr Juice, Jet Juice and Cascade. The challenges being faced by these medium-scale enterprises are the shortage of the juice concentrate, high distribution costs and high cost of packaging.



Case 7: Feed processing

The country is experiencing a critical shortage of livestock feed in the country mainly due to scarcity of soyabeans.  During the 2004/05 agricultural season, production was about 40,000mt yet the total market demand (including oil extraction) is in excess of 200,000mt. Soyabeans is an important protein source for livestock.  Because of this shortage, the Zimbabwe Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, has availed funds to the National Soyabean Promotion Programme, specifically to boost soyabean production in the country.

Equipment for livestock feed manufacturing at medium-scale level is widely available.  The addition of a mixer and a bag stitcher/sewing machine to an ordinary grinding mill is all that is required.  However, there is lack of information on feed ingredients and limited flexibility in substitutes of raw material.  Maphosa et al. (2002) showed that dried sweet potato chips can be used as a partial substitute for maize in manufacturing of broiler chicken feed.



Processing of animal products
Meat, fish and dairy products are highly perishable and have a high risk of food poisoning as they are low acid foods that can support the growth of a wide range of bacteria. Processing of these products should be done quickly and properly and should not be carried out by inexperienced people, and training to deal with the risks associated with these products should be given (Fellows, 1997).

Dairy Products
Milk is always in high demand because of its nutritional value and pleasant flavour. It is used for domestic consumption, for use with other products like tea and porridge and can be processed into butter, cheese and yoghurt. In Zimbabwe there are very few small-and medium-scale processors because milk is relatively difficult to process, requiring careful control over hygiene, relatively high capital expenditure and short distribution channels to markets as the shelf-life is short (three to five days). Dairibord Zimbabwe (Ltd) is the major company that is involved in milk processing. The company invested heavily in capital equipment like chillers, storage tanks, pasteuriser, line separators, homogenisers, sterilizers, and packaging equipment.  However, currently they are not operating at full capacity because of the shortage of raw milk. Their milk products include ice-cream, yoghurt, sour milk (lacto) and pasteurised and sterilised milk. The few small and medium-scale processors who are based on farms mainly produce pasteurised milk and sour milk because these products require relatively less sophisticated capital equipment. They get most of their processing equipment from Stainless Steel Products (Pvt), Zimbabwean company. There are no milk processors at growth points in Zimbabwe.

Meat Products

Butcheries are found in towns and at almost alI Rural Service Centres in Zimbabwe. Butchers in towns procure most of their meat from Cold Storage Commission (a Zimbabwean company based in towns) or abattoirs located on peri-urban farms. The meat is stored in cold storage rooms or refrigerators and the meat is sliced using electric blades just before sale.  Butchers at growth points procure most of their meat from the surrounding villages and the slaughtering is usually done with an axe. The villagers sell their beasts to generate income for food, school fees, to pay bride price etc. Where electricity is accessible storage of the meat is done in refrigerators/freezers. Those without access to electricity preserve the meat by sun-drying.

Fish Products

Fish is an important source of protein and minerals. Many women in Zimbabwe depend on buying and selling fish. Some travel to places over 300 km away to procure this product for sale in towns. Most of the fish comes from fresh water dams and lakes. Fish is preserved by treating it with salt and laying it on raised platforms under the sun for 2 – 10 days. The dried fish is then packed in polythene bags. The key challenge in fish processing is to reduce the drying time by developing appropriate hybrid driers. Prolonged drying periods often promote the rotting of fish hence wastage and can cause food poisoning.


A typical SME concern is profiled in the following section to highlight the real situation in the industry.

Case 9: Tanroy Engineering

Tanroy Engineering is a medium-scale manufacturing operation based in the Msasa Industrial area of Harare. The company is well-equipped and adequately staffed to handle manufacturing of small and medium-scale agro-processing equipment that include maize mills, dehullers, peanut butter mills, peanut roasters, shellers, chippers and graters. Many of their products have both manual and motorised versions and tailor-made sizes can be fabricated to suit different consumer preferences. The motorised versions of their products are powered by electric motors or diesel engines. All their products bear the brand name “TAN TAN” and this is already a household name in Southern Africa. Locally the TAN TAN products are retailed in Harare, Mutare and Bulawayo and there are plans to open a branch in Masvingo.

Though the company has made substantial progress in establishing itself in light engineering, there are currently difficulties in sourcing electric motors and engines. Electric motors are sourced from local importers such as RENOX and Appropriate Technology Africa. However, they have direct import arrangements for diesel engines from Asia. The current shortage of foreign exchange in the country both directly and indirectly affects Tanroy as this hinders the supply of engines and electric motors.





Case 10: Muchinjike Agricultural Development Oilseed Processing Project; Murewa District; Zimbabwe: a novel agro-processing business model.

In 2002, the Avondale Rotary Club of Harare, introduced a unique crop production and processing innovation in the Muchinjike Communal Area of Murewa District in Mashonalnd East province of Zimbabwe. Muchinjike is 15 kilometres to the north-west of Murewa Rural Service Centre (RSC). The innovation is a participatory rural development concept based on the hypothesis that if communal farmers pool their land resources together to constitute the size of a commercial farm, have centralised technical planning and management, are provided with adequate production inputs and mechanisation equipment, their productivity will improve to commercial level. The argument behind it is that productivity in communal areas is poor because of (i) lack of good planning, (ii) poor management, (iii) low mechanisation inputs, (iv) limited production inputs (seed, fertiliser, chemicals etc.) and (v) lack of crop value addition options.

Fifty households from in Muchinjike were selected for the initial registration of the project. These and other unregistered farmers pooled together about 200 hectares from their pieces of land as their shareholding contribution. The Rotary Club provided funds to implement the project. The money was used to hire a manager, purchase a 100 horsepower tractor, a 2.5m Rome harrow, a 3-disc plough, a 5 tonne double axle trailer, a Helix 80 motorised oil press, planting seed, fertiliser and chemicals. The bulk of the planting seed input was hybrid sunflower seed as this was seen to be the most viable cash crop. Hybrid seed have a soft hull and therefore easier to press compared to open pollinated varieties.  In addition, the oil yield of the former is higher than the latter.  Sunflower seed was planted on 100 hectares in the first season and this was conceived to be adequate to provide pressing seed for the oil press.

The oil press is temporarily located at rented premises provided by a local businessman at Murewa RSC as the project area is not yet electrified. In the first harvest season in 2003 (which was a drought year), about 15mt of sunflower were produced by the project and 40mt were sourced from local farmers. However, the quantities were too little to match the oil press capacity of 2.5mt per day. Typically the machine operated at between 600 and 700kg per day for a limited period of time in the year.

A critical participatory evaluation of the project conducted in 2004 revealed that it was more profitable for the project to source sunflower seed from the local farmers than producing its own. Service pressing[3] was also shown to be a viable income generating window. Based on the findings, the project is this season reducing the sunflower hectarage to 10 hectares for the sole purpose of producing supplementary seed to the outsourced supply so as fill machine time. The project has also opened a sunflower planting seed and fertiliser shop that sells the commodities to local farmers at commercial rates. Though the objective is to promote sunflower production to ensure viability of the oil press business, the new venture constitutes a viable business line on its own but without any obligations to the buyers towards the project. The demand for the sunflower seed is impressive indicating local farmers’ realisation of the profitability of value addition to the crop. As the number of growers from outside the project area increases, permanent citing of the oil press at Murewa RSC becomes favourable because the RSC is central and well-serviced with good road and telecommunication networks.

The sunflower oil produced is more viscous than commercial brands of vegetable oil and is perceived by the local consumers to cook better when the same quantities are used hence sunflower cold pressed oil lasts longer in the home.

The advantages resulting from this model are:
1.     It has allowed farmers to add value to their produce without necessarily needing to invest in processing equipment;
2.     It has freed up farmer time which would otherwise be wasted using the manual oilseed processing methods which are slow;
3.     It has opened up local market opportunities with potential for bulk selling e.g. to boarding schools or hospitals; hence increasing household income levels;
4.     In its present form, the model does not call for product certification because the oil belongs to the farmers, and not to the entrepreneur;
5.     Incentives for increased production of sunflower and diversification of cropping enterprises which have previously been dominated by maize and no cash crops; and
6.     The communities now have improved diets from the cooking oil (which is cholesterol-free; with no artificial additives) or through purchase of food using the income generated from sunflower oil sales.

In this case it is a win-win situation between the entrepreneur who generates income through service provision at a fee and through selling the cake; while the farmers get the oil.  The biggest challenge facing the entrepreneur is that last year GMB refused to sell pressing seed to them; yet they are the biggest buyer and seller of grain in Zimbabwe.  GMB, located within the same RSC, are now setting-up their own plant for processing sunflower oil, setting the scene for possible market competition.  However, the flexibility in-built in the medium-scale enterprise, whereby farmers can bring in any quantity for processing and carry away their own oil, coupled with economies of scale might carry the day for the Project.

9.   Recommendations

The agro-processing industry in Zimbabwe has potential to meet the local needs and export requirements. Medium-scale enterprises have potential to create employment opportunities especially if the enterprises are nurtured to produce for both domestic and export markets. However, the sector currently faces many problems that emanate from various negative aspects of the national economy, uncertainty that exists over access to finance, advice, information and reliable markets . The major areas that need improvement in the industry are:
  • The response of the agro-processing industry to the changes in the agrarian sector. With the reduced farm sizes and increased number of farmers, there is need to develop small- and medium-scale processing equipment that cater for the full spectrum of agricultural commodities produced in the country. Emphasis should then shift from small-scale farmers aspiring to own the processing technology to improving access to the technology such as the custom milling case. This can be achieved by creating conditions that favour establishment of agro-enterprises to encompass processing of meat, milk and the related products, as well.
  • There is no lack of clear government policy on agro-processing yet it has potential to drive the economy.  Government policies that enhance performance of medium grain milling enterprises, livestock feeds manufacturers, peanut butter and vegetable oil processors need to be put in place as a tool for empowering indigenous entrepreneurs. The institutional framework to support and enable trade initiatives is provided by organisations such as Zimtrade, Zimbabwe Investment Centre and the Export Processing Zone.
  • Fruit and vegetable processing is a viable business venture given that there is a high level of production of the products and a wide range of small- and medium-scale processing equipment available in the country and in the region. Establishment of medium-scale fruit and vegetable processing enterprises will help reduce heavy losses experienced by producers and ensure product availability on the market. Entrepreneurs need to be exposed to available technologies and the range of products that can be manufactured to encourage uptake of this new business.
  • There is need to enforce food safety and hygiene standards as well as protect consumers against nutrient insecurity and undesirable tastes.
  • The current farming practices require higher levels of mechanisation and a wider diversity of equipment designs so as to keep pace with changes in production techniques as new crops are introduced. It may no longer be viable now for individual farmers to own primary processing equipment as the reduced farm sizes may not justify such investment. Encouraging establishment of processing service providers may lead to optimum utilisation of equipment and will take away from the farmer the worries associated with repairs and maintenance of equipment.
  • Research in agro-processing equipment does not meet national expectations. The public and private sectors must be mandated to undertake collaborative research with the formal equipment manufacturers and offer research and testing services to the informal sector which does not have the capacity to conduct serious and meaningful research.
  • Training offered to agro-processors needs to include business management skills as these are lacking in most business people. This entails that training in agricultural colleges and universities should also encompass the same to ensure competence of extension officers in the subject.
  • The Department of Agricultural Engineering and Technical Services in the Ministry of Agriculture should broaden their knowledge and capacity to offer technical assistance and advice, support and extension services that cover a much bigger range of equipment, ownership modalities and financing models.
  • The most critical limiting factor in equipment manufacturing is limited access to foreign currency. This has led to delayed delivery of orders or complete failure to do so. Agro-processing equipment manufacturing has a strong bearing on the success of the agrarian reform hence the manufacturers need to make a collective presentation to the government for them to be classified as a special facility by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
  • The limited capacity of processors to purchase equipment can be alleviated in a number of ways that include conducting research on how costs of production can be reduced, advocating for removal of VAT on imported materials used in manufacturing, introducing low cost finances for both manufacturers and processors, and preferential allocation of foreign currency to manufacturers and promotion of service providers.

10.          Lessons learnt

  • Equipment ownership (individuals, farmer groups or entrepreneurs) has been left for people to decide without proper technical advice
  • Equipment cost is beyond the reach of individuals; hence technology access through service provision rather than ownership of the hardware is more favourable
  • There is hidden agro-processing information and expertise among technocrats that has been deliberately kept unpublished for commercial purposes
  • Literature on small- and medium-scale agro-processing often leaves out meat, mopani worm, fish and non-food products such as hides and skins, timber and medicinal plants.  However it maybe argued that the last two could be regarded as more inclined towards the area of natural resources.
  • Documented studies are commodity/sector-based e.g. grain milling, vegetable oil pressing. This exercise has helped to synthesize isolated literature.
  • Currently, one survival strategy for large-scale processors is by sub-contracting medium-scale processors, that meet the required standards.  The medium-scale enterprises would then supply processed products in bulk for large-scale entrepreneurs to pack and market.

11.          Conclusion

Small- and medium-scale agro-processing enterprises play a vital role in the national economic development of Zimbabwe yet they do not receive due attention from the government. There is a need to critically look at how equipment manufacturers can be assisted in the manufacture of good quality machines that are affordable to processors. This may call for preferential treatment of the sector by the Central Bank in terms of foreign currency allocation. Research could also contribute by investigating how equipment production costs can be reduced. Business viability is enhanced by good training, service back-up, attractive financial packages and strategic equipment ownership arrangements.  Training institutions and extension services should develop business models that can be adopted by entrepreneurs. Equipment manufacturers and processors need to coordinate with farmer organisations and organise themselves into a lobby group in order to alleviate the constraints faced in the sector.

There is need to review the technology supply chain for a wide range of commodities produced in the country.  The reviews help to identify chain constraints which need addressing.  The dynamic nature of the agro-processing industry necessitate frequent and periodic reviews.

Based on this review of the agro-processing industry in Zimbabwe, it is concluded that the country is self reliant with regards to manufacturing of cereal mills, dehullers, mixers, crop dryers, oil presses and peanut butter mills. The following are the major sub-sectors that have been identified as having potential to boost indigenous small and medium agro- industries in the country:
·           Establishment of medium-scale grain milling enterprises
·           Manufacturing of livestock feeds at local level
·           Processing and marketing of peanut butter
·           Processing and marketing of processed fruits and vegetable products
·           Manufacturing of medium-scale vegetable oil processing equipment
·           Feed processing.

With initial support to medium-scale entrepreneurs in RSCs, the livelihoods of small-holder farmers can be greatly enhanced through local value addition resulting in improved incomes and diets as well as releasing farmers’ time for other activities when motorised systems are introduced compared to the conventional manual methods.

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Tirivangani Koza, Department of Agricultural Engineering and Technical Services in the Ministry of Agriculture for critically reviewing a draft of this document.  Small Enterprise Development Corporation is also thanked for providing definitions of SMEs in the Zimbabwe context.


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[1] The A1 model has plots with 5-6 hectares arable and in excess of 6 hectares for grazing.
[2] The A2 model has farms ranging from 15 to 50 hectares in the peri-urban areas, 15 to  250 hectares in Agro-ecological region 1 and 350 to 2000 hectares in Agro-ecological region V.
[3] Service pressing involves farmers bringing their own pressing seed, they get the seed pressed and the resultant crude oil filtered all at a fee.  The farmer then carries away the oil.  No packaging costs are incurred as the farmers bring their own packaging material.  The farmers then have the option to sell the oil within the community or consume it.
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