Blessing Rwizi Business Correspondent (Manica Post)
Mutasa District youths have embraced the fruit and vegetable sun-drying project following the success of 40 others who ventured into the trade four years ago.
The youths in wards three, five, six and seven have formed six groups, Dambandamba, Zindi Best Young Farmers, New Pioneer, Kubatana, Kurima Ivhu and Samaringa.
They are growing and drying vegetables, tomatoes, mango and bananas using net shades and solar driers supplied by Barclays Bank over the past four years.
Each group has selected a central point for its dryer. The idea of sun-drying is the brainchild of Zimbabwe Farmers Union with the aim of helping youths to take agriculture seriously and earn a living.
ZFU has since sourced equipment, funding and market for the young farmers below 35 years as well as educating them on how to dry their products using the locally designed and produced solar dryers.
When the fruits ripen, they are hand sliced and placed in the driers before being packed in branded plastics. In recent years, the youths have been selling the dried products to local supermarkets such as Spar.
ZFU Manicaland provincial manager, Mr Daniel Mungazi, said ZFU was identifying projects that could earn youths a living using available resources.
“Over the past years, we have been identifying projects that can earn the youths a living using available resources as well as educating them on how best they can manage these projects. Mutasa youths have been doing very well in their sun-drying projects and the projects’ rich pickings have positively changed their lives. This has seen large numbers turning up to take up similar project.
“We have worked with Barclays Bank for quite some time now towards the success of these projects and they have also helped in establishing poultry houses for different projects and supplying banana, tomato and vegetable seeds to the six functional groups,” said Mr Mungazi.
In a separate interview, one of the group leaders, Mr David Rori said: “We are facing difficulties in drying our products because of the heavy rains yet this is the time when we have plenty of mango and pineapples. We also need more markets for our products and good packaging so that we market our products very well.”