Ariston’s tea production slumps as Group cuts down outsourced labour on COVID-19

  • Group’s tea export sales have declined
  • Macadamia export sales have remained firm
  • Harvesting of pome fruit and other products unaffected

Harare – Diversified agro-industrial concern, Ariston Holdings projects a 20% reduction in overall tea production after trimming a significant share of its outsourced labour and redirecting of retained workforce to high value crop’s harvesting.

The Croup however maintained production throughout the lockdown period in line with the status accorded to its industry.

The Group discontinued hiring and ferrying of labour from nearby villages in a bid to ensure the safety of its workers.

As a result of this move, harvesting of tea has slowed down as available labour is first applied to macadamia harvesting as it is a higher value crop and more susceptible to theft.

Due to this factor, a 20% reduction in overall tea production is expected as slowing down the harvesting process results in compromised green leaf quality which cannot be converted into export quality made tea.

The pandemic has also upset the movement of tea samples as airlines have suspended their services as demand for travel plummeted.

This has in turn resulted in subdued tea export sales and a 10% reduction in selling prices resulting from a reduction in global tea demand.

Macadamia export sales however, have remained firm as export orders are on hand for the entire current season crop while prices that are being achieved are an improvement compared to the prior year.  

Ariston also stated that harvesting of pome fruit and other horticultural products is unaffected with adequate labour for the operations existing on the Estates.

Suspension of airline services have however affected pome fruit exports and the problem continues to persist.

“Thus, the majority of the current year pome fruit of approximately 1 580 tonnes will have to be consumed locally with small tonnages being sold to neighbouring countries”, Ariston said.

The Group also added that 30% of local fruit sales are sold through the vendor market but due to the lockdown, vendors are unable to operate resulting in a build-up of stock.

Zimbabwe has been under lockdown since the 30th of March 2020 and the measures have been continuously reviewed and currently, only the formal sector is allowed to operate but at reduced hours.

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