Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited has economically empowered over 2 000 rural households under its fruit beneficiation programme.

Communities in Zaka, Mahusekwa, Mhondoro and Hwedza are among the beneficiaries of the project through the group’s Beit Bridge Juicing Private Limited’s grove to glass strategy in the guava value chain.

Under this project, the group has engaged communities with abundant guava forests to pick guava fruit for juice and jam production at Beitbridge Juicing (BBJ).

This also comes as the country has been pushing for value addition and beneficiation of local produce as a way of enhancing employment creation and boost competitiveness of Zimbabwean products on the export market. Value addition and beneficiation have been identified as enablers to economic growth through enhanced earnings.

The group also sees community empowerment and beneficiation as  key in all its new and upcoming projects and has established strong links and created a broad based economic empowerment model with communities that supply the critical raw materials in its manufacturing processes. 

Beitbridge Juicing

This also cuts on raw material imports.

“We engaged communities with abundant guava forests in rural communities to harvest guavas, which we would then process at our plants and use as a base for cordial drinks and other value added products such as Farmstyle Guava Jam,” said Schweppes managing director Mr Charles Msipa.

“To date, we have empowered over 2000 households predominantly women and youths who are involved in the project. We collect an annual target tonnage of 1500 and from which approximately USD $150,000 has been invested to date. All payments to communities are remitted at source.

“This has allowed us to maintain a consistent supply of our guava flavoured cordial juice drinks and the recently introduced Minute Maid Guava in the market giving customers an opportunity to enjoy organically produced local beverages. Within the broader industry context, our grove to glass intervention is substituting imports of raw materials (base concentrates used in formulation) through local sourcing as we also sell and export to other beverages manufacturers both locally and across the region,” he said.

According to Schweppes, the grove to glass strategy is not only benefitting the company, but broader benefits across the industry have been realised.

The success of the group’s guava value chain is testimony to the success of private sector and community collaborative frameworks and provides a template for other corporates to follow.

World over, agriculture value chains have potential to boost activity despite economic challenges such inflationary pressures, foreign currency shortages as well as weather related natural disasters.

Government is driving value addition and beneficiation concept especially under a matrix that add value to community initiatives.

Many communities have been suffering huge loses as their produce in most cases are destroyed by weather due to poor storage and handling facilities.

Article originally published by The Herald 28 April 2021