By Tafara Chikumira
STATE entity, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has rolled out massive sunflower production across the country as part of government efforts to enhance import substitution on cooking oil products.
ARDA has rolled out the enhanced sunflower production programme after government availed funds for the state entity to achieve its 2030 accelerator model.
“Planting is already in progress for both hybrid and OPVC seed and we are targeting to establish at least 7 000 hectares of sunflower from our co-estates alone. And then under rural development and industrialisation basically your irrigation schemes and your communal farmers we have already started planting as well and we are targeting to establish another 7000 to 8000 hectares this provides that seed won’t be a limiting factor,” ARDA Chief Executive Officer, Tinotenda Mhiko explained.
He added: “We are also taking advantage of internal beneficial synergies like we have got a seed company ARDA seeds which has been tasked with a new mandate of promoting climate smart varieties and they have been instrumental in providing us with sunflower seed.”
The parastatal is now in the process of procuring and establishing processing plants in marginalised communities for farmers to accrue maximum benefits from their efforts.
“Preparations now at advanced stage and we are targeting to launch our first micro processing plant at district if not rural level under our rural development and industrialization unit where we are expressing sunflower oil from the sunflower and you will find that these small scale farmers are not only benefiting on the contract farming side but are also going to get a post processing incentive where we pay an incentive based on the amount of oil expressed from the sunflower.”
The Second Republic is instituting various interventions to ensure farmers contribute to and equally benefit from the Agriculture Revival Strategy.