Arda seeks funding for commercial farmers in unique arrangement

Arda seeks funding for commercial farmers in unique arrangement

GWERU, September 15 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA) is courting investors to fund under-capacitated commercial farmers under a tripartite arrangement to boost agricultural output for the 2015/16 farming season,  an official has said.

Arda chairman, Basil Nyabadza, said the parastatal will act as guarantors for loans availed under the arrangement, which targets large scale commercial farmers who have resources to support irrigation on their farms.

“Arda is now looking for investors to partner with farmers. If you have 200 hectares or more and water on the land, come and talk to us,” Nyabadza told The Source at the weekend.

Zimbabwe suffered a poor agricultural season in 2014/2015 season, which farmers’ organisations attributed to poor preparations and lack of funding, which led to the staple maize crop dropping 53 percent to 742,000 tonnes.  Government plans to import 700,000 tonnes of maize to cover the deficit.

“The Arda programme will put together sufficient funds so that we put irrigation on those farms through a tripartite agreement with the investor and the farmer,” said Nyabadza, adding that partnering with investors will help unlock the value in the agriculture sector and “restore the dignity of our farmers.”

The parastatal was also working on reviving operations at some of its estates which were lying idle by the end of the year.

In June, Arda acting general manager, Willard Mbona told a parliamentary committee on agriculture that of its 21 estates, about half were under partnerships, mainly with Chinese firms, while the remainder required funding.