The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo in Maphisa, Senior Farming Reporter
ONE of the country’s biggest agricultural enterprises, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda)-Trek Antelope Estate in Matobo District has ventured into horticultural production as part of its efforts to augment its revenue generation initiatives.
Arda Antelope Estate manager Mr Alec Chinyai said in an interview on Friday last week that the scheme has introduced horticultural production as part of its efforts to ensure quick returns and sustainability of its farming operations.
“The reason we ventured into horticultural production was solely to augment our cash flows as you are aware the major crops, we have been growing over the years take up to six months for us to generate income. Thus, the introduction of horticultural produce will enable us to bridge our expenditure because these are short season crops. In between we can be able to buy spares and other consumables with the major crops being destined for the market later on,” he said.
The estate, which is being run on a private-public partnership between Arda and Credcorp (the holding company for Trek Petroleum) has since the beginning of the joint venture in 2016 been growing cereal crops and edible seeds. The estate also has over 600 cattle breeding stock and introduced a piggery project at the beginning of the year as part of its efforts to become an integrated farming enterprise. The scheme would be harvesting its first horticulture crop in the form of potatoes late next month.
“We introduced a new crop, potato, which is on the ground. There is 11 hectares, which we expect to be harvesting on 28 June and our target is to produce 50 tonnes per hectare. On average one plant will be giving us five kilogrammes. We have also prepared land for July potato planting,” said Mr Chinyai.
Cabbage production is also underway with two hectares of the crop already planted while plans are already set to introduce tomatoes.
“From the potatoes we will venture into horticulture full time of which we have established two hectares of cabbage seedlings. Our target is to plant 11 hectares which we are going to do at two-week intervals. We are also planning to do two hectares of tomatoes, which is going to be planted on 20 July,” said Mr Chinyai.
Harvesting of the 2019/20 summer season soya bean crop has been completed.
“As for the summer 2019/20 season, we are through with harvesting the 255 hectares of soya beans. We have so far delivered 564 tonnes to United Refineries Limited. We are left with 150 tonnes to deliver but the harvesting has been completed,” said Mr Chinyai.
Harvesting of the scheme’s hybrid maize seed is ongoing with 41 tonnes from 90 hectares having been harvested so far while its sugar beans is at various stages of maturity.
“We also have 22 hectares of sugar beans that are at podding to podding filling stage. There is also 45 hectares of green mealies, which we couldn’t sell because it matured at the start of the coronavirus national lockdown period, thus we couldn’t sell it to informal traders. So, it is destined for sale as commercial maize and it will be harvested in June and we expect 380 tonnes from there,” said Mr Chinyai.
The estate has targeted planting 600 hectares of the winter wheat crop with 440 hectares already have been planted to date.
“We are targeting 600 hectares of winter wheat crop. Land preparation is underway and we are ready to plant 580 hectares. To date we have planted 440 hectares, 165 hectares has germinated while the rest is under germinating irrigation. We are likely to beat our deadline of planting, which is 30 May. If it wasn’t for electricity challenges, our normal cut off date is the 15th of May but we are glad that power has been restored,” said Mr Chinyai. – @DNsingo