AGRICULTURAL Rural Development Authority (ARDA) is a state owned enterprise under the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development that is responsible for spearheading the advancement of agricultural production and rural development.
Its mandate is derieved from the ARDA Act that seeks to promote development through implementation of vibrant schemes in the agricultural sector with a view of reducing poverty especially in rural areas.
The authority has substantial land holding across the country comprising of 21 estates with a total of 98,000 hectares of arable land of which 19.4% is irrigable.
Further Arda’s interventions in the agriculture sector are divided into two main categories, namely commercial/business operations and rural development.
Commercial operations involve production of various crops and livestock at the 21 estates which operate as strategic business units (SBUs).
In that regard each SBU maintains separate accounts that it can use to secure funding. However, in the last decade financing of all the SBUs became a serious challenge despite the floating of the Agriculture Marketing Authority bonds as a source of funding.
Production plummeted to less than 30% of capacity because of lack of funding and the authority responded by adopting strategic public private partnerships (PPPs) financing models to resuscitate operations and to date 18 of its SBUs have entered into partnership with private companies under the public private partnership (PPP) scheme.
Under the PPP arrangements, ARDA has used a number of frameworks which ranges from joint ventures (JVs), build operate and transfer (BOT),rehabilitate operate and transfer (ROT), management contracts, leasing and share farming arrangements for its SBUs in sugar cane, ethanol, horticulture, maize,wheat, tea, safaris and gaming and livestock production.
The most famous PPP entered into by ARDA is the Chisumbanje Estate where a businessman Billy Rautenbach provided working capital and invested US$300 million in a sugar cane processing plant under a BOT arrangement.
The resuscitation of the Chisumbanje Estates created direct and indirect employment to thousands of people and has increased the production of ethanol used in the blending of fuel.
Furthermore, ARDA joined hands with private players in its Antelope Estate to produce cereals. This investment saw 320 direct jobs being created.
In addition to PPPs, ARDA is implementing the Agricultural Based Socio-Economic
programmes to improve the livelihoods of rural communities throughout-grower schemes and smallholder irrigation schemes.
In this scheme, ARDA provides a ready market to contracted farmers as well as extension services in an effort to boost production and productivity. In the same vein, ARDA is funding infrastructures such as centre pivots and water infrastructures.
With respect livestock, ARDA partnered with private sector in the production of cattle in Matabeleland In this project, ARDA partnered with Kalimba Investments in the production of livestock and pecan nuts in its Balu Estate in Umguza District.
Pecan nuts are being produced for export market while the cattled production is earmarked for local market. Source Zim Agric Sector Survey