Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) is expecting a winter wheat bumper harvest of 6 000 tonnes after planting more than 1 668 hectares on its farms.
In an interview, Arda chief executive officer Mr Tinotenda Mhiko said with a total hectarage of 1 668 planted from 20 irrigation schemes, they were expecting a good harvest this year.
“We established excellent winter wheat from the irrigation schemes around the country. A bumper harvest of 6 000 tonnes is expected from a total hectarage of 1 668 planted from 20 irrigation schemes. Most of the beneficiaries under management of an Arda resident scheme business managers expect a bumper harvest of wheat,” said Mr Mhiko.
He said they were running a pilot of 42 irrigation schemes but managed to establish 1 668ha of wheat from 20 schemes. Mr Mhiko said from two irrigation schemes in the Matabeleland region have 264 hectares, in Manicaland 859ha from 12 schemes, Masvingo 375ha from two schemes and 170ha in Mashonaland East from four schemes.
“Looking at some of the irrigation schemes, Mushandike Irrigation Scheme planted 353ha, Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme 180ha, Maphisa Irrigation Scheme 114ha and Mbuya Nehanda Estate (Doreen’s Pride) has close to 175ha.”
Mr Mhiko said most of the wheat established at these schemes was now in full ear and healthy at booting stage. He said that Arda’s Rural Transformation Strategy was gathering momentum as most schemes were back to life after years of desolation.
“For the summer crop preparations are also in progress as we establish Arda as a vehicle for national food, feed, fibre and biofuels security. Most schemes are now up and running courtesy of the rural development initiatives from Arda, the aim is to create smallholder farmer capacitation, employment and food self-sufficiency in pursuit of a middle income economy by 2030,” said Mr Mhiko.
He said that they were given a mandate to manage the 450 irrigation schemes in the country and make them viable.
He said so far, they have started with a pilot of 42 irrigation schemes where they have deployed scheme business managers.
Mr Mhiko said that they have also established close to 1 500 hectares from these pilot schemes while 2 040 were planted at Arda Estates.
He said that Arda was working as a united front with Agritex, Department of Irrigation and Zinwa through Arda resident scheme business managers who are in charge of the schemes to ensure that they run viably and sustainably.
Meanwhile, nationwide farmers have planted wheat on 66 435ha this winter, the third highest hectarage since independence and 50 percent more than last year, giving hope that Zimbabwe will hit self-sufficiency or get very close.
In a recent Cabinet briefing, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa was on record stating that the area planted to wheat this season was 50 percent above last year’s hectarage.
She said as Cabinet was updated by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement (Dr Anxious Masuku) 85 000ha had been planted for wheat, 66 435ha were planted for the Presidential, National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS)/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield and Private Sector schemes.
Minister Mutsvangwa said planted hectarage was about 78 percent of the target area and 50 percent above last year.