ARDA encourages joint ventures to boost wheat production Mr Leonard Munamati

Edgar Vhera

Agriculture Specialist Writer

WITH the country pushing to achieve its 2024 wheat target, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) is leading the charge to see the dream succeeding by encouraging farmers to embrace joint ventures and expand production.

The Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) acting chief director, Mr Leonard Munamati recently revealed that the country was targeting 120 000 hectares of wheat, with ARDA accounting for half of the hectarage.

“The ARDA grouping will have 60 000 hectares from its participating estates, supporting irrigation schemes and joint ventures),” he added.

In a recent notice to farmers, ARDA said it was implementing wheat-based food security interventions in a whole-of-sector approach, to mitigate the effects of the El Nino induced drought.

“In this regard, farmers are reminded that registration for the joint venture winter wheat programme was still open. Contracted farmers are encouraged to accelerate and conclude planting before the wheat planting window closes to maximise on yield and productivity,” said the statement.

Under joint venture arrangements, farmers are being supported with interest free agricultural inputs for the 2024 season.

To register, farmers need to visit their nearest Agritex officer or ARDA agronomist. Farmers can also register or book for a farm assessment from the comfort of their farms by dialing *887# on their NetOne lines.

ARDA chief executive officer Mr Tinotenda Mhiko said there had been considerable progress with farmers partaking in the joint venture initiative.

“Farmers are responding positively to our invitation to participate in the ARDA joint venture programme. We continue to urge the already contracted wheat farmers to accelerate planting before the planting window closes to maximise on yield and production,” he said.

The window is still open to farmers with irrigation facilities who are being encouraged to register for the ARDA joint venture programme.

The joint venture programme is a wheat-based food security intervention aimed at mitigating the effects of the El-Niño induced drought.

ARDA and its partners are targeting to establish at least 60 000 hectares of the cereal across its estates, irrigation scheme business units and individual farmers in joint venture arrangements with an expected harvest of at least 300 000 tonnes.

Zimbabwe has a comparative and competitive advantage to plant wheat and 120 000 hectares are targeted this year. At an average yield of five tonnes per hectare, 600 000 tonnes of the produce are expected. The window period for wheat planting spans from May 1 to 31 with yields decreasing for crops planted thereafter.

ARDAS has organised farmers into clusters to ring-fence electricity supplies with the power utility, Zesa, promising to prioritise power supply for irrigation scheduling.

The Government recently announced an incentive planning price of US$440 per tonne for wheat and assured assured farmers of timeous payments for deliveries, as the Second Republic steps up efforts to prevent an El Nino-induced food deficit.

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