Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) expects to harvest about 13,750 tonnes of maize from its Antelope and Ingwizi irrigation schemes in Matabeleland South province.
Production at the two estates is run on a joint venture arrangement between Arda and Trek Petroleum covering a combined 1,250 hectares under the summer maize cropping.
Arda board chairman, Basil Nyabadza, yesterday said the maize crop at the two estates was nearing maturity.
“In Matabeleland South, we’ve two estates under summer maize and the crop is now nearing maturity. At Ingwizi we’ve 600ha under maize while 650ha are also under the crop at Antelope.
“We expect to harvest 11 tonnes per ha from the two estates despite power supply disruptions that we once experienced at Ingwizi during the course of the cropping season,” said Nyabadza.
He said as part of their efforts to boost national food security, plans were underway to expand the two estates and create a value chain synergy.
“We’ve constructed drying facilities at Maphisa and we’re almost through with the project. The next step is to erect a milling facility so that we don’t transport maize to Bulawayo but mealie-meal,” said Nyabadza.
This winter season, he said, 1,250ha would be put under winter wheat.
In January, Arda announced that it was seeking 25,000ha of irrigable land under the first phase of its Graduation Programme aimed at boosting national food security through enhanced production of livestock and crops like maize, wheat, and soya beans.
“The Graduation Programme is underway and we’ve received overwhelming response from A1 and A2 farmers with irrigable land who find themselves with limited resources to extract value from the land to partner Arda,” said Nyabadza.
It is believed that the farmer will partner Arda under a sound business model that would guarantee a win-win situation. Arda also targets to engage at least 250 graduands from tertiary institutions for attachments under the Graduation Programme.
The students would be put under active supervision during their stint with Arda.