Farming Estate Faces Collapse

Arda Balu estate used to generate billions of dollars through various agricultural activities such as horticulture, beef and dairy farming, summer and winter crop cultivation and tea production.

A visit to the area revealed that the estate is now a shadow of its former self, with no farming machinery to talk of.

A host of broken down machinery, among them, combine harvesters lies idle.

Sources say some of the machinery at the estate was looted by Zanu (PF) politicians at the height of the agrarian reforms.

Employees at the estate said there is need for an urgent injection of capital to acquire machinery which they said had outlived its life-span and is beyond repair.

“Machinery is dilapidated…nothing is functioning perfectly…there is need for new machinery as the one which is here is now beyond repair.

“If there can be an injection of US$1million, the estate can be brought back to its glorious days,” the farm manager, Nathaniel Ncube said in an interview.

While machinery at Balu estate is a write off, equipment valued millions of United States dollars for a potato and fruit juice project initiated by the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo at the Balu Estate owned lies idle at the Joshua Mqabuko Airport.

Calls for an urgent injection of US$1million to revive Balu estate follow comments by the Arda board chairman, Basil Nyabadza, recently, indicating that the authority is seeking strategic partners to capacitate the estates countrywide.

Nyabadza was quoted saying the Arda estates, that reportedly used to contribute about a third of the country’s total grain, have collapsed due to years of under-funding and non-availability of credit loans.

Meanwhile, theft of Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) cables has been blamed by Arda Balu estate for its failure to plant 100 hectares of winter wheat.

Balu estate only managed to plant 50 hectares of wheat because of inconsistent power supplies to its irrigation schemes.

“In September 2009, we failed to plant anything because of the theft of ZESA cables. It affected our summer cropping as we could not irrigate the crops. There was no electricity for the irrigation scheme.

“We got power in February 2010 but it was only for a few weeks only to be re-connected in June 2010 and we were already late for the winter wheat planting season and that is the reason why we only managed to plant 50 hectares of wheat instead of the planned 100 hectares,” farm manager, Ncube said.