‘Next, let’s dou­ble our pro­duc­tion’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - INTERVIEW - Basil Nyabadza

Sun­day Mail Re­porter Nor­man Muchemwa re­cently sat down with Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Author­ity chair Mr Basil Nyabadza to talk about how Arda is go­ing about ful­fill­ing its man­date and what its plans for the fu­ture are. The fol­low­ing are ex­cerpts of what Mr Nyabadza said.

AS ARDA, dur­ing the last 24 months, we have im­ple­mented

Govern­ment pol­icy on pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships, which is the cor­ner­stone of our de­vel­op­ment and progress.

And, in­deed, in all our 21 es­tates, there is now ac­tiv­ity tak­ing place.

The chal­lenge we face now is to dou­ble our pro­duc­tion in plan­ta­tions, ce­re­als, hor­ti­cul­ture, live­stock, wildlife, small grains and oil seeds - those are the is­sues we are in­volved in. And we are see­ing that with the new Govern­ment in place, Arda has em­barked on dou­bling pro­duc­tion, which is the clear man­date we have from our min­is­ter (of Lands, Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Per­rance Shiri); that we must dou­ble on what­ever we have on the ground be­cause we now have ac­cess to cap­i­tal.

The only com­plaint we have in some of our ar­eas is sil­ta­tion and ac­cess to ad­di­tional wa­ter in some of our es­tates.

Those are the only ob­sta­cles; oth­er­wise, in terms of re­sources, we de­ployed the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship pol­icy of Govern­ment to ac­cess ad­di­tional re­sources.

Ru­ral de­vel­op­ment

The main is­sue is what our name and man­date im­plies, which is ru­ral de­vel­op­ment. By far, that’s the big­gest chal­lenge and the big­gest re­spon­si­bil­ity we have.

As we speak, seven out of ten of our cit­i­zens live in ru­ral ar­eas. So we cover all as­pects of de­vel­op­ment there and we must ex­pand our eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity through our es­tates and out­grower pro­grammes.

Equally, we are now fo­cus­ing on value ad­di­tion so that our peo­ple ben­e­fit.

On Au­gust 17, as you are aware, we were in Mate­bele­land South, Ma­tobo district, pre­cisely at Arda An­te­lope Es­tate.

Dur­ing the tour, Vice-Pres­i­dent (Dr Con­stantino Chi­wenga) raised fun­da­men­tal ques­tions on four of our prod­ucts, which come from agri­cul­ture. The first one was why are we grow­ing wheat in the ru­ral ar­eas and our farms and send­ing that wheat to Harare and Bu­l­awayo for milling and for bak­ing?

We must now, if we grow wheat in our ru­ral prov­inces, we must now struc­ture the way for­ward founded on bak­eries, milling fa­cil­i­ties, milk fa­cil­i­ties and abat­toir fa­cil­i­ties to be an­chored in prov­inces. In each prov­ince, we must have a min­i­mum of those four value ad­di­tion cen­tres.

In other words, why do we grow maize in Karoi, trans­port it to Harare for milling, and take the mealie meal back to Karoi, who is bear­ing that cost? That has to be elim­i­nated and that’s our man­date for the next five years. That is the same thing with milk: why do we have milk on the farms out­side Harare, Bu­l­awayo and Gweru or Mutare and take milk to the big cities and then take it back to our con­sumers.

Why do we have to process the meat in ur­ban ar­eas; there is no rea­son for that? We should view ur­ban ar­eas like Harare, Bu­l­awayo, Mutare and Gweru as our mar­kets. Pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing and mar­ket­ing should be done in prov­inces.

So, re­ally, that’s the thrust Arda is go­ing to spear­head in the next five years.

And when you think about it, we have sit­u­a­tions where bread is baked in Maron­dera and trans­ported to Bu­l­awayo.

It’s not so much about the bread, it’s about the fuel - we im­port fuel in this coun­try and how do we jus­tify mov­ing bread 450km to Bu­l­awayo and back.

Who is pay­ing for that fuel? The na­tion is pay­ing for that fuel, and surely, don’t we have that tech­nol­ogy to put ovens in other ar­eas? Be­cause that’s the way we should progress.

The chal­lenge now is for Arda not only to pro­duce, but to do the same thing as we are do­ing at Chisum­banje ethanol plant.

You pro­duce, you process and you mar­ket from that place; so that’s the sort of ap­proach which my min­is­ter and the VP dis­cussed - thats the way we should go.

Dou­bling pro­duc­tion

The other is­sue, as I said, is about hectares for pro­duc­tion, which they said must be dou­bled, whether its wheat, maize, soya beans - what­ever we do - we must dou­ble be­cause now we have a very clear po­si­tion on busi­ness, we have found a for­mula of ac­cess­ing fi­nance, what is re­quired now is to ex­pand pro­duc­tion, value-add and make sure that we keep the prices down and, in so do­ing, strate­gi­cally grow crops which bring value to our peo­ple.

In other words, he was say­ing they will like to see each farmer in the vil­lage re­tain­ing a for­eign cur­rency ac­count with the cen­tral bank or our re­spec­tive banks be­cause they are grow­ing to­bacco or sug­ar­cane for ex­ports, they are grow­ing ground­nuts, these are crops for ex­ports; so at district level, we are go­ing to make sure that we have a dam to grow at least five crops.

And what I am talk­ing about here is, they grow their maize, they must grow to­bacco, they must grow ground­nuts, they must grow gar­lic, they must grow ginger; these are ded­i­cated small crops which can be done at vil­lage level for ex­ports.

The thrust is that we must now di­vide our labour and land util­i­sa­tion un­der im­port sub­sti­tu­tion and ex­ports. That’s clearly the mes­sage com­ing from my min­is­ter and the Vice Pres­i­dent, who also leads the food and nu­tri­tion clus­ter.

Our task is clearly very clear, but it is now as­sum­ing ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity.

At Maphisa, we have fin­ished build­ing a milling fa­cil­ity and elec­tric­ity has been in­stalled and in the next four or five weeks, we will be of­fi­cially open­ing that fa­cil­ity to kick­start that pro­gramme of value ad­di­tion in the ru­ral growth ar­eas.

Com­mand Agri­cul­ture

On Com­mand Agri­cul­ture, there is no ques­tion that Arda has been a ben­e­fi­ciary be­cause our part­ners who joined us un­der the PPP pro­gramme are now ac­cess­ing in­puts on time and we make sure that we take ad­van­tage of plant­ing on time, tak­ing ad­van­tage of sea­sonal change from sum­mer to win­ter.

Also, we have in­stalled ad­di­tional equip­ment or tech­nol­ogy and dri­ers to dry the crops.

We can take the crop from the field at 26 per­cent mois­ture level and we dry the crop, which af­fords us time to plant our win­ter wheat much ear­lier.

Com­mand Agri­cul­ture is work­ing; we are pleased that it’s be­ing ex­panded.

We are now talk­ing of Com­mand Live­stock, Com­mand Fish­eries, Com­mand Small Grains, Com­mand Ce­re­als.

Very shortly, we are putting a pa­per to­gether so that we have Com­mand Plan­ta­tions.

The ob­jec­tive here is that we will be, in the next six weeks, launch­ing a huge plan­ta­tion of picken nuts and will be do­ing that in Mate­bele­land North, Umguza district.

We are start­ing with 10 000 trees as phase one and next Au­gust, an­other 10 000 trees un­til we do a min­i­mum of 25 000 trees.

In ad­di­tion, we are also start­ing an out­grower pro­gramme where each fam­ily must have mango trees and picken nuts trees.

In some ar­eas, where av­o­cado trees grow, we will also do the projects.

Cit­rus plan­ta­tions and macadamia will also be part of the projects.

Now that we have iden­ti­fied 200 000 nurs­ery trees for guavas, man­goes, lemons, av­o­cado trees, we now want each and ev­ery fam­ily to take up fruit trees, just as they grow to­bacco com­mer­cially.

We are say­ing each house­hold must have those trees.

We are now iden­ti­fy­ing po­ten­tial in­vestors to come and in­vest to make sure each prov­ince has a fruit pro­cess­ing plant, just as we have in Mashona­land West.

The next prov­ince will be Mate­bele­land South, fol­lowed by Man­i­ca­land, then we go to Mid­lands, Masvingo and the rest of the other prov­inces.

So that’s the roll-out pro­gramme for the next five years.

We are not just plan­ning for the next 12 months, but for the next 60 months - that is the man­date.

If we can do these dif­fi­cult chal­lenges, as we now grad­u­ate and put a new Govern­ment in the com­ing week, we are now fo­cus­ing on ru­ral de­vel­op­ment.

We now have a clear vi­sion; that’s where growth is, that’s where op­por­tu­ni­ties are, that’s where seven out of ten of our peo­ple are and you can even re­late it to the vot­ing pat­tern of our coun­try.

This is now where the fo­cus of Govern­ment will now be di­rected to.

The ur­ban ar­eas will not be left out, but most en­ergy will be di­rected to ru­ral ar­eas.

Ev­ery­one is now be­ing di­rected whether you are in en­ergy, wa­ter, ed­u­ca­tion and health - ru­ral de­vel­op­ment is the theme and the fu­ture of our coun­try and for the next five years; that’s the man­date com­ing from the Pre­sid­ium.

- (File Pic­ture)

Ndo­dana Sibanda shows how the cen­tre pivot works to wa­ter the wheat in Arda Jot­sholo.

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