MBUYA Rosemary Tendi (70) of Rusitu Valley in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, has been braving crispy cold mornings in the past few weeks to make sure that she monitors the harvesting of oranges from her backyard orchard.
The weather here has always been colder than most parts of Zimbabwe, but in recent years extreme coldness is being experienced occasionally.
However, this does not deter Mbuya Tendi from doing the work of leading a pack of labour from her family and few others contracted from surrounding villages to harvest the crop and send it to the market in Harare, some 400km away.
It has been a routine for the past four decades for her and other villagers who rely on citrus fruit as a commercial commodity.
According to ZimTrade, in Zimbabwe citrus fruits are commercially grown in areas which include Beitbridge, Mazowe Valley, Chegutu and parts of Manicaland province, such as Headlands and Chipinge.
Mbuya Tendi’s Rusitu Valley takes the distinction of being the biggest communal area that has thriving backyard citrus orchards.
Their contribution to the national output has been noted. So, too, have been problems such as technical knowledge, pests, storage and market.
In particular, markets have been a problem for Zimbabwe’s farmers, both small and large, with the country failing to tap into the global markets despite high quality of the crop.
The situation is set to change considerably.
A new citrus export deal that Zimbabwe recently signed with China is expected to boost the citrus industry and grow its share in the world market, with farmers across the country set to benefit from the opening of the vast Chinese market.
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