Tanganda completes 1.8MW solar plant, two more by December

The 1.8MW solar plant at Meikles' Ratelshoek estate

Tanganda has installed a 1.8MW solar plant at one of its tea estates and plans to complete two more solar farms at two other estates by year end, as part of the Meikles group’s plan to expand its agriculture exports.

Construction of the plant at Ratelshoek, Chipinge, was completed in September. The plant, built by DPA, is now supplying power for irrigation and acting as a standby source of power for the factory supported by diesel generators when power supply from the national grid is interrupted, Meikles says in its half-year financial results.

“During the current power outages 70% diesel savings have been realised when compared with prior year usage,” the company says.

Two more solar power plants are under construction; Tingamira’s 1.6MW and Jersey’s 2MW plants are expected to be completed by December. In total, Meikles plans to install 7.5MW of solar power, the company has said previously.

“The Group is well placed to take advantage of opportunities that may arise as it has substantial resources to support its strategies. To this end, capital projects across the subsidiaries will be completed as planned. There are strong indications that the forthcoming agricultural season will be more positive than the previous two seasons, which augurs well for Tanganda,” said Meikles.

Tanganda sales volumes

The company has been increasing its investment in agriculture after selling off Meikles Hotel to Dubai’s Albwardy Hotels for US$20 million earlier this year.

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In the six months to September, Tanganda’s tea export sales of 3 282 tonnes were 11% lower than the 3 669 tonnes sold in the same period last year.

Average bulk tea export prices for the period dropped to US$1.35/kg from US$1.47/kg in the six months’ period to 30 September last year. Tea production for the period fell by 17% mainly due to the drought.

Packed tea sales volumes grew by 14%. The volume of Macadamia production declined by 37% from 854 tonnes in prior year season down to 537 tonnes, attributed to the drought and failure to irrigate crops due to power losses.

The volume of avocado export sales grew by 15% to 1671 tonnes from 1 450 tonnes over the same time last year.

However, avocado prices dropped by 37% to US$1.02/kg, hit by the impact of lockdowns in Europe that led to the closure of restaurants and hotels.

Meikles is looking to ride on the global avocado bandwagon.

The global avocado market grew from US$3 billion in 2014 to US$6.5 billion last year, according to TradeMap.

Zimbabwe exported US$2.5 million worth of avocadoes in 2018, ZimStat data shows. Kenya, Africa’s largest exporter, earned US$74 million from record avocado exports in the first half of the year. South Africa and Tanzania are also expanding production.