The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has increased capacity utilisation at most of its estates to around 75 percent from the 15 percent which has been recorded over the past five years, chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza said.
ARDA owns 22 estates across the country, most of which have been lying idle due to viability challenges largely emanating from poor funding.
Some of its household estates include Katiyo Tea Estates and Arda Transau Estates, which was allocated to former diamond mining companies operating in Marange to relocate families affected by their activities.
ARDAalso owns Chisumbanje Sugarcane Estates where it built a multimillion-dollar ethanol plant, Green Fuel, its biggest investment since the adoption of the multi-currency system.
ARDA used the Public Private Partnerships model to revive the estates, Mr Nyabadza said. “We have seen a steady growth of capacity utilisation at most of our estates and this is spread through cereals, livestock wildlife, plantations, horticulture and small grains. We still have investment opportunities plantations,” said Mr Nya- badza.
He said the revived estates are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, which would ensure optimum production.
Now that most of the estates are now fully operational, Mr Nyabadza said ARDA, which has invested millions of dollars over the past five years in reviving the estates across the country, was now focusing on overseas markets.
He said Government, through the Ministry of Lands, is availing additional land to ARDA to expand production on fruit plantations. ARDA was looking at raising $30 million to set up additional fruit processing plants.
“We are no longer focusing on the domestic market only. Whatever we do now, there has to be a strong linkage to exports. We want every province to have value addition facilities as we strive to grow our exports,” said Mr Nyabadza.
Already, ARDA and Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited, through its wholly owned subsidiary Beitbridge Juicing, partnered to form a Special Purpose Vehicle -Best Fruit Processors – in Norton which produces juice concentrate.
The second phase of project involves installation and commissioning of a similar fruit processing equipment at Esigodini in Matabeleland South, which should proceed in 2016 once the Norton line and operations are running.