Arda brews up new life for tea estates

The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) is planning to help revive the tea industry in Manicaland, according to a senior official, Basil Nyabadza.

Nyabadza, the board chairman, told The Zimbabwean that the revival process was set to start in February with the support of money from the ethanol plant at Chisumbanje.

Arda will pay for the resuscitation programme and provide any technical advice and expertise that might be required to bring the estates back to life.

“We have secured some revenue from ethanol production,” said Nyabadza. “We decided to use the money to fund agriculture, including tea plantations. We are aiming to boost production levels, which will in turn help the out-grower farmers become self-sufficient.”

As a state-assisted company, Arda conducted a survey in the eastern Highlands and discovered that most tea estates were facing serious challenges due to a host of factors.

He said Arda has taken up the initiative under the government adopted ZimAsset economic revival blueprint, the new economic plan adopted by Zanu (PF) soon after the July national election.

The economic plan swept away all other efforts approved by the cabinet during the coalition government. These included Step One and Two and the

Medium Term Recovery Plan, blueprints expected to breathe live into Zimbabwe’s near comatose economy by 2015.

Arda, in partnership with Macdom and Rating Investment Company, formed Green Fuel, which owns the Chisumbanje ethanol plant. Under the deal, Arda expects a certain percentage from the profits generated through the joint venture organisation.

Tea producers abandoned the industry in favour of banana farming because of low prices for the crop. Tea has been selling at a paltry price of seven cents a kilo, causing serious viability problems for most farmers.

Because of the low prices, said Nyabadza, the number of tea growers has fallen in the past 10 years. Today, there are a mere 1,200 small-scale tea-growers compared to 3,000 in 2004.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *