In a victory for more than 200 smallholder growers, Westfalia Fruit is celebrating a bountiful 2020 litchi season in Mozambique.
The returns from the 2020 bumper crop are uplifting a community of small-scale farmers in Manica Province, who, with the help of Westfalia over the past five years, have secured market access to Europe, GlobalGAP status, and a World Bank grant to boost productivity.
The group of 200+ farmers, which grew from a small project consisting of eight smallholder growers in 2015, has today helped transform a once poverty-stricken community by stimulating the local economy and boosting employment.
Westfalia started working with litchi growers in Manica in 2014 after setting up an avocado-growing project in the country. At the time, Westfalia recognised the potential of the litchis grown by these farmers, as they are harvested two weeks ahead of litchis in Madagascar, enabling importers to extend the litchi season. At the time, litchis grown on the farms were sold only on the domestic market, and the market was approaching saturation, with prices declining.
The Manica Litchi Growers Association (MLGA) was formed in 2016, and with some clever logistics, Westfalia was able to facilitate the marketing and export of the litchis to Europe to complement the Madagascan litchi season with high quality, fully certified fruit. Based on the initial success, growers in Manica increased their plantings, and Westfalia initiated training programmes which enabled growers to achieve GlobalGap and GRASP status. More and more growers joined the MLGA over the years.
“The growers embraced training and are extremely proud of their subsequent accreditations,” says Westfalia Fruto Moçambique Programme Coordinator, Esnath Pachawo.
Most recently, the World Bank awarded a grant to Westfalia to provide the large group of growers with microjet irrigations systems that will improve the size of their fruit and raise the potential for these fruits to fetch premium prices. This fund also covers a roll-over fertiliser programme and a litchi-preservation non-sulphur machine for the packhouse.
“The effect of the successful litchi project is evident in the area, and we see the lives of smallholders changing completely,” says Westfalia Fruto Moçambique General Manager, Mike Jahme.
“Growers are expanding, and today some of the growers are seen as commercial farmers. It is extremely rewarding to see such development in such a remote part of the world,” he adds.
Many of the growers began as subsistence farmers, and are gradually commercialising as they find success through the programme.
“We are thrilled with the success of the project and the positive effect it has had on the local community,” says CEO of Westfalia Fruit Africa, Zac Bard.
“In this very remote part of the world, we see young people who are optimistic about the future of their litchi crops coming back to assistand take over their family farms,” says Bard.
“We look forward to seeing the area transform into the fruit basket of Mozambique.”
About Westfalia Fruit
The multinational Westfalia Fruit Group is a leading supplier of fresh and processed produce to international markets, offering a diverse range of quality fruit and related products via its vertically integrated supply chain. As a frontrunner in the avocado industry, Westfalia grows, sources, ripens, packs, processes and markets accredited avocados across the globe throughout the year. Value-added products include avocado oil, low-preservative guacamole, frozen avocado and dried fruit.
Westfalia grows fruit in all major origins in the Americas and Africa andsources from partner orchards, giving Westfalia the most diverse avocado-growing footprint in the world.
A supplier of choice to retail, wholesale and food-service customers, Westfalia operates sales offices in the UK, Europe, North America, Latin America and southern Africa. Fruit is packed in diverse formats and expertly ripened to deliver optimal eating quality.
In 2015, Westfalia acquired 398 hectares of land in Mozambique to establish Westfalia Fruto Moçambique, which has begun development of Hass and Carmen-Hass avocado orchards.
The operation is located in the Manica Province of central Mozambique, renowned as an early fruit-producing area. The farm is producing Hass and Carmen-Hass avocados significantly earlier than the earliest producing areas in South Africa. In 2020, avocado production was extended by acquiring a1000ha farm in the Catandica area.
Running a responsible business means prioritising the wellbeing of surrounding environments and stakeholders in the supply chain. Westfalia cares for its own people as well as local communities, delivering support in the form of skills development, education, primary health care and improved living conditions. The principles of safe and hygienic food processing as well as fair human resource management are upheld throughout.
Westfalia strives to minimise its environmental impact by reducing waste, carbon emissions and the use of hazardous materials wherever possible, while using resources more efficiently. Ensuring the most positive possible impact on the biological and social ecosystems in which it operates is core to the Group’s business model. Novel cultivar development, product innovation, eco-friendly packaging and soil conservation are among Westfalia’s many sustainability initiatives. Westfalia Technological Services is one of the world’s largest private research organisations specialising in sub-tropical fruit