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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

ARDA transforms rural communities through establishment of business units

Story by Tafara Chikumira

THE government’s rural development and industrialisation drive is now in full swing with the Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA), rolling out four village business units under Chief Mapanzure in Zvishavane, amid indications that horticultural establishments will commence at the beginning of this year.

The community-based village enterprises, which are being established under the Rural Development 8.0 model seek to inspire rural communities to treat farming as a business where the government provides start-up packages with a business manager set to steer production and value addition for the benefit of the community at large.

ARDA chief executive officer, Mr Tinotenda Mhiko said, “It’s a broad-based system which allows anyone to get funding for their village business units. As long as they have followed the right procedures for their company registration, there is nothing that can stop villagers from running the entities. All members of the community are eligible to be shareholders. We provide funds and resources for the first phase of the programme as we seek to promote productivity.”

The programme is already bringing smiles to the community which is elated with the change of fortunes in their locality.

“We are witnessing some great progress in this part of the country. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our President for always being there for us in alleviating the issue of poverty in our area. We are now beginning to witness the fruits of these business units,” said a community member.

“We are privileged to have witnessed the inception of the Second Republic in our lifetime. What we are witnessing here is truly Vision 2030 on course. These businesses are indeed a source of empowerment which will also empower the future generations as we grow old,” said another community member.

The government says it will continue to sponsor the village business concept as a way to empower rural communities in line with the inclusive development agenda.

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka said, “We will continue mobilising and harnessing resources until such a time these business units become viable and self-sustaining. We have set targets for all the projects and I can assure you that we have put in place a massive monitoring and evaluation for efficiency. Indeed, it is through the whole approach strategy that the idea of village business units will continue to see light of the day.”

Apart from enhancing nutritional value in communities, the village business units’ approach has the potential of employing people from the particular village per site which translates to job creation and turning farming into lucrative business.

To date, the government approach has witnessed the sinking of over 2000 boreholes and 140 village business units have been fully equipped with solar and drip irrigation systems through the rural development arm of ARDA.

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