GOVERNMENT has started ceding farms acquired by the quasi-government Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) to listed counter Seed Co to bo
ost seed production and prevent recurring farm inputs shortages.
Two farms, Halsteads and Amuritsir in the Enterprise area, have already been allocated to the seed house and a further five have been identified.
Since the launch of the land reform programme in 2000, seed production has plummeted by over 70% forcing farmers to reduce hectarages cropped.
Last season an estimated 30 000 tonnes of seed was produced, which translates to around 30% of the national requirement.
Arda, which grabbed more than 25 estates throughout the country during the land reform programme, including the controversial Kondozi Estate, dismally failed to revive production at the farms, forcing government to take away other estates for Operation Maguta. It is now ceding some estates to private operators.
Sources said other than giving some of the Arda farms to Seed Co, government had also ceded Kondozi Estate to the Industrial Development Corporation’s agricultural arm — Bonnezim.
A further eight former Arda estates dotted around the country are being operated by the army under Operation Maguta.
Seed Co spokesperson Marjorie Mutemererwa confirmed that government has offered the company two Arda estates near Shamva.
“Government has given Seed Co, Arda Halsteads and Arda Amuritsir for own seed production,” Mutemererwa said.
Touring the farms recently, Agriculture minister Joseph Made emphasised the importance of seed sufficiency and the return of exports.
“We are offering you this land because we are assured of quality seed production enough for our country and the region,” Made said, adding: “With these two farms, exports are sure to come.”
Made urged Seed Co to produce small grain seed such as sorghum, sunflower, millet and groundnuts at Arda Halsteads in order to close the gap of increasing demand. He also added that national output can only be boosted if Seed Co ensures full utilisation of the land.