Best Oranges, once the pride of Zimbabwe
The Standard, Sunday 14 August 2011
For a couple of years now I have not tasted a really sweet orange. I have passed through Chegutu on my way to and from Bulawayo on several occasions and have bought tasteless oranges. Those which have a taste are sour and I have not been impressed. I am sure this is the experience of many a traveller. The same has been my experience as I ply the Mazoe-Bindura road. What has become of the pride of Zimbabwe? Yet our relatives in Diaspora always ask those who visit them to bring them Mazoe drink without fail.
At one time I actually asked a vendor to let me peel one before buying a packet. Those who were travelling with me could not continue eating the oranges but throw them away. I feel pity for those who spend day in day out selling these fruits which are no longer oranges. The unsuspecting travellers buy these oranges, only to throw them away on their journey. One may ask: is this how oranges now taste like?
No! A big no! I had a present surprise this time around last week when I travelled to Swereki, 690 km from Harare. Matabeleland South is home to this beautiful but dry land. Just before Swereki, there are estates which produce the best oranges I have ever eaten. I lost count of the oranges I consumed. The following day I had a brief number of “pleasant” stomach shakeup because of the nice tasty oranges I had enjoyed.
Upon asking who was doing this miracle, I was told that most of the guys who left the erstwhile famous Mazoe Orange Estates had migrated to this place. We passed through a highly mechanised plant that was producing juice, which was being exported to Harare to make orange juice. On noticing that we were priests on a mission, workers at the plant showered us with oranges and wished us pleasant and safe journey enjoying real oranges, the pride of Zimbabwe a couple of years ago.
A couple of lessons from this experience are worth pondering upon. It is one thing owning a farm and putting it to best use is another. Orange trees still adorn the many farms along the two highways I have mentioned above but the crops being grown there hardly meet the acceptable standards.
My best advice to the new farm owners is to try other crops other than oranges.
Rev Dr Levee Kadenge