By ZBC Reporter
ARDA Antelope Estate in Maphisa, Matabeleland South has diversified into potato farming as part of increasing production of strategic food security crops in the province.
The 670 -hectare irrigation facility that has mainly been producing cereal crops such as maize and wheat resolved in February last year to diversify to potato production and the results are impressive.
ARDA Antelope Estate Manager Mr Aleck Chinyai highlighted that the success of the venture that saw 70 tonnes per hectare being harvested from 11 hectares put under potato farming, has now seen the estate increasing production of the vegetable in order to meet demand.
We used to think our land is not suitable for potato farming but we are happy that we can do both cereals and potatoes. We are looking at bridging the importation gap, by increasing the 11 hectares we are currently doing to 22 hectares per month and we this will enable us to meet demand, he said.
Mat South Provincial Chief, Mr Innocent Nyathi encouraged Arda Antelope, which is currently sourcing seed from Nyanga and Banket to start producing seed that will also benefit local communal irrigation schemes.
We are happy that Arda is now doing potatoes as well. What we want is for the estate to start producing seed so that we can extend the same programme to our communal irrigation schemes. This will ensure that we get high returns from farming,” he said
Local production of strategic crops dovetails into government’s national food security initiatives which also seek to reduce the import bill.