New fruit and vegetable pack house set to arrest post-harvest losses

The people of Mutoko District, north of Harare, well known for their expertise in horticulture production, have repeatedly suffered loss of both produce and related income due to long distances to lucrative markets and limited access to effective transport.

News | 02 December 2018
Contact(s): E4WAY Project, ILO Harare Office Tel +2634369805-12 Email: greenenterprize@ilo.org
(ILO News) HARARE: A pack-house has been installed at Tabudirira Vocational Training Centre. It is part of the fruit and vegetable anchor enterprise which is being established in the district under the Youth and Women Empowerment Project, E4WAY in short.

The pack-house will function as a fruit and vegetable processing hub where local horticulture farmers will sell their fruits and vegetables for onwards distribution to markets. It is anticipated that the pack house and processing plant will help catalyse production, promote value addition and reduce post-harvest losses among local farmers.

The E4WAY Project is a collaborative initiative by the International Labour Organization and Government of Zimbabwe. Financially supported by the AfDB, the E4WAY Project’s overall development objective is to economically empower youth and women in situations of economic vulnerability. It seeks to shape an inclusive growth trajectory that builds more efficient and market responsive value chains to catalyse employment creation and broader income streams along the artisanal mining, agriculture and other food value chains.

An unintended result of the project has seen seven young men from the District have an opportunity to upgrade their construction skills when they took part in the assembly and installation of a fruit and vegetables pack-house. The youth are technical students studying bricklaying, carpentry and joinery at Tabudirira Vocational Training Centre. The young people were working under the guidance of DICLA Training and Farming, a South African based company that was contracted by the E4WAY Project to supply and erect the prefabricated pack-house.

The participation of the students from Tabudirira Vocation Training Centre in the construction of the pack house was a form of work integrated learning through which practical skills were imparted to the students. It was a great opportunity for the construction students to acquire practical and industry relevant skills from a renowned South African company. The students are in the second semester of their one year course, after which they will go on industrial attachment for another year. The practical skills they acquired during this brief attachment and the certificate that they will receive from DICLA Training and Farming will come in handy once they enter the Labour market.

The students informed the supervision delegation led by the ILO Director, Ms. Hopolang Phororo, that they were happy and excited to be part of this pack house construction as this was their first time to be exposed to such an experience. They indicated that they had gained very valuable experience during the three week stint and that they were now capable of undertaking a similar assignment on their own without any supervision. They said that they looked forward to being employed to mount pack houses in the community. Mr. Pieter Venter, the contractor from DICLA confirmed that the young students were quick and eager learners and that after he explained to them how to use certain pieces of equipment, they were ready to do the work on their own.

Mr. Mudzamiri, the principal of Tabudirira Vocational Training Centre also confirmed that the practical experience that the students acquired was invaluable and commended the E4WAY Project for initiating the process. He, however, bemoaned the fact that there was a gender imbalance in the construction related subjects as most parents did not want their daughters to take what they considered as male focused skills. The principal stressed that deliberate strategies to encourage participation of young women in male dominated courses were necessary, as they help promote mind-set changes among community members.

The E4WAY Project has, in the meantime, committed it self to creating many more similar opportunities through its various construction interventions, where young women and men can engage in work based learning opportunities that can help improve their employability, once they enter the labour market.