Zona, the smallest of the five Tanganda Tea Company Limited estates, is located only 38km from Chipinge town. Though smaller in size Zona’s beauty is every bit as dazzling as its sister estates. Bordering both the famous Chirinda Forest and Mozambique Zona’s landscape is sweeping hills of green tea, intermingled with natural forest which conjures up ideas of a magical green carpet. A feeling of tranquillity overcomes you when surveying the stunning scenery.
The estate boasts well drained soils of SAL, SACL and most dominantly Sa CL. With minimum and maximum temperatures of 12°C and 25°C respectively and altitudes ranging from 969m to 815m the climate is perfect for tea growing.
Tea is currently Zona’s prime focus, producing 1800 tonnes made tea per annum. Whilst various varieties of tea are grown the most common are PC 110 and SFS 150.
Only 20% of the made tea goes onto the local Zimbabwean market with the balance sold regionally and around the SADC region. Other than tea only a moderate amount of maize is grown but purely as food for contractual workers.
Three perennial rivers cross through the estate, namely the Zona River, Manyoka River and Nyaudongo River. The Manyoka meets the Zona River just before the factory area whereas the Nyaudongo River flows into the Zona River near the dam. The Zona River then supplies a small but rather picturesque 1160m³ dam which takes care of all Zona’s irrigation require-ments. Safe drinking water is available from a borehole and a natural spring.
Between the farming activities, factory and of course maintenance depart-ments Zona can employ up to 480 people, some permanent and others seasonal/contractual depending on the time of year.
The factory, built in 1951, comprises 2 factory lines. Each factory line can produce 400kg of made tea per hour (+1700kg green leaf being processed per line). The factory also processes tea from the neighbouring settlers, known as “outgrowers”.
As the local outgrowers don’t have their own factories they sell their green leaf to Zona to be processed through the factory. This provides the local community with a source of income. Tanganda have a small full time team whose sole function is to visit Outgrowers and provide them with assistance with fertiliser and technical advice. In fact, it was not long ago that Tanganda sourced finance for the outgrowers to procure 5 brand new tractors. It is vital that the green leaf reaches the factories within hours to ensure high quality grades and naturally transportation from the fields to the factories provided a massive challenge for the surrounding communities. With the assistance of Tanganda the outgrowers now have their own tractors, against finance which they are slowly paying off, to ensure they get their harvests to the factory timeously. The trailers and tea baskets are provided free by Tanganda.
The magnificent and enchanting Chirinda Forest lies along Zona’s Eastern border. The Chirinda Forest is the most southern natural rain forest in Africa being purely fed by rain, unlike others in the southern region which are sea fed. The forest, steeped in local legend, is home to many tree species, fungi, and vegetation not to mention abundant birdlife, small mammals and insects.
Zona’s own 64ha of indigenous forest mirror the forest with numerous tree species. Examples include various Acacias, such as Umbrella Thorn (Acacia sieberiana), Luckybean Tree (Erythrina abyssinica), Monkey Plum (Diospyos edulis), Cape Fig (capensis), Nybherebhe (Albizia adianthifolia). Small mammals such as Vervet Monkeys, Tree Civets, Red Squirrels, Banded Mongeese, wild Hares and Jackals can be found.
Plantations of Wattle and Gum trees are established as fuel for the factory leaving the indigenous areas purely for conservation. All conservation areas are protected from any type of hunting or destruction of the flora and fauna.
Education and safety of the children is a priority. A Tanganda run crèche is available taking up to 50 children providing vital day care for toddlers whilst parents are at work. The crèche also serves a meal ensuring the little ones are well taken care of.
The schools on the estate though now run by the Ministry of Education are well supported by Tanganda. The primary school caters for over 400 children and the secondary school currently has over 260 pupils. The secondary school takes the students up to O Level standard.
Zona’s welfare department are particularly busy. The estate has a fully stocked 6 bed clinic run by a SRN (state registered nurse). There is a Recreation Hall used mainly for functions and church meetings. Often there are dramas – a local favourite, or perhaps the occasional discos or even a DJ and a band not forgetting the regular weddings or end of year Christmas parties.
Quite a wide variety of sports are played which are avidly attended by the enthusiastic supporters. Employees participate in darts, soccer, netball, volleyball and tug-O-war. Regular training prepares the teams for organised sports events on weekends against other Tanganda estates or teams from the Chipinge district.
In the evenings there is a Sports Bar, Cocktail Bar or a Beer Hall for socialising and merriment. There certainly is much entertainment available for relaxation after hours.
Led by a strong management team Zona is a thriving estate with a dedicated, hard working community behind it.