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June 18, 2019

Zimbabwe's Tea And Coffee Cultivation On The Rebound

Tea and coffee cultivation are experiencing a revival in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands.

Most farmers have been taking up tobacco, but this year’s crop has been fetching lower prices. In the Eastern Highlands region near the border with Mozambique, coffee and tea growing is becoming profitable once again.

  “Tea production for the six-month period to March 31 improved by 6percent to 1851 tons,” said Paul Spear, the chief executive of horticultural concern Ariston Holdings.

The company said export prices were strong and favourable for its operations. Any company or business operation that generates forex in Zimbabwe is considered better off at a time the local currency has continued to sag. For Ariston, export sales volumes for tea during the review period strengthened by as much as 18percent, giving the company a much needed financial boost. Prices were also massively stronger too. “Average export prices improved by 13 percent,” said Spear.

Coffee is another crop that is starting to recover in the Eastern Highlands area. Farmers in the area have also received a fresh lease of life after Nespresso launched a coffee product from Zimbabwe last month, putting the country’s prospects and advantages back on the global coffee market.

But the Chimanimani and Chipinge areas, where the crops are grown the most, were recently ravaged by Cyclone Idai and farm and irrigation equipment was destroyed. This has not been a deterrent with Ariston, which is also listed on the ZSE currently processing a $1.5million (R22.15m) insurance claim cover for the tea growing infrastructure that was destroyed.

Zimbabwe has a long history of coffee production and was once one of the producers of Africa’s most sought after coffee varieties. Coffee production from Zimbabwe peaked in the late 1980s, but dropped significantly in the early 2000s because of economic hardship and climate shocks as well as land grabs in 2000.

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