Arda ventures into pecan nut production

THE Agriculture and Rural Development Authority has secured an investor to produce pecan nuts, chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza has said.

Pecan nuts are the product of the hickory tree, also known as Carya illinoinensis. The trees are native to central and southern North America, and were food source for Native Americans for centuries before the arrival of colonists, according to SeedGuide.Info, a website, which provides information on history and characteristics of various seeds. They can be a substitute for walnuts.

The plants were not domesticated until the 17th century, when the first plantations of pecans were established in Mexico. Raw pecans can be salted or sweetened to make snacks.

They can be sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and ice creams. They are also widely used in confectionery.

Pecan nut butter is a popular spread for breads and toast. They can be processed to make pecan edible pressed oil.

The production of pecan tress plantations require long-term commitment as it takes about seven to eight years before harvesting.

“This is a new development within our border,” Mr Nyabadza said in an interview.

“We are pleased to advise that we are introducing production of pecan nuts. We want to establish 10-hectare plantations spread in ideal climatic conditions within our country.

“Government through the Ministry of Lands is availing additional land to ARDA on request to expand on production of export dedicated crops. There is a strong demand on the world market of this nut. The technology to do so is already in the country.

“As such, ARDA is partnering the pioneers of this technology within Zimbabwe to now produce the critical mass. Trials have been done in Matabeleland South and very shorty we will be showcasing to the nation the nursery of pecan nut trees,” he added.

SeedGuide.Info said the trees can live and produce nuts for hundreds of years, if they are in a favourably temperate climate and well cared for.

Several old pecan orchards have been continuously producing through several generations of cultivation.

The trees are deciduous, dropping their leaves in the winter to conserve energy and putting out fresh growth in the spring.

Over the past few years, ARDA has successfully transformed most of its estates which had been lying idle due to viability challenges.

ARDA it grown capacity utilisation to around 75 percent from 15 percent in the last five years. ARDA used the Public Private Partnerships model to revive most of the estates.

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