Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Agriculture and Rural Development Authority acting chief executive Mr Willard Mbona has been appointed substantive CEO with immediate effect, while former Agricultural Marketing Authority chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha has been appointed Grain Marketing Board general manager. Mr Mbona was the acting CEO since 2009 when Mr Erickson Mvududu left the parastatal.
Mr Mutenha takes over from Mr Lawrence Jasi who has been acting CEO at GMB since Mr Albert Mandizha left the company when his contract expired in 2014.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made confirmed the appointments.
“Mr Mbona is now the substantive CEO (of ARDA) with immediate effect and he will work towards the turnaround of the parastatal,” he said.
“Mr Mutenha has been appointed to the post of general manger for the GMB with immediate effect. Agricultural Marketing Authority director Mrs Nancy Zitsanza will now be the acting CEO for AMA.”
Mr Mbona, who has experience in auditing and agriculture development, has been tasked to revive dairy, beef and crop production at ARDA estates.
Dr Made said another area of focus for the new Arda boss was to institute a strategic framework to set up vibrant irrigation and agriculture activities around the newly completed Tokwe Mukosi Dam.
The dam, located in Chivi, southern Masvingo, has potential to transform livelihoods for thousands.
Dr Made said GMB required strategic leadership to carry out the function of ensuring the strategic grain reserve and Mr Mutenha would work on that.
Arda has been venturing into partnerships with private partners and this has seen the revival of the company’s estates.
The parastatal 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.
Most of the estates had been lying idle due to lack of funding.
Some of Arda’s 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.
Arda also owns Chisumbanje Sugar cane Estates where it built a multi-million dollar ethanol plant, Green Fuel, its biggest investment since the adoption of multi-currency system.
Arda used the Public Private Partnerships model to revive the estates.
Arda chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza said there had been a steady growth of capacity utilisation at most of the estates and this had spread through cereals, livestock wildlife, plantations, horticulture and small grains.
He said the revived estates were equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, which would ensure optimum production.
“Arda has 21 estates which are all functional,” said Mr Nyabadza. “To date, 19 estates are operating at 75 percent capacity while the remaining two are operating at 50 percent capacity.”