STATE-owned enterprise Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) is looking to intensify irrigation on its estates in the New Year as it completes its restructuring exercise, businessdigest has learnt.
In an interview, Arda chairman Ivan Craig said the parastatal will focus on using irrigation to improve livelihoods particularly in the rural areas.
“In 2022, we are looking at increasing irrigation schemes going into the estates where we are going to carry our own operations and where we are going to say ‘why not farm on our own’. Definitely we are going to carry out our own farming. We are establishing centre pivots on those estates,” he said.
“We are also looking at recruiting more business people so that we target as many irrigation scheme projects as possible. We are also looking at new dams that are being constructed so that we have additional irrigation schemes to make sure the community benefits in a bigger way because rural development is a major mandate; we want people to improve their livelihoods.”
Craig said that of the 450 irrigation schemes managed by Arda, only 26 have been capacitated.
“So far we have managed to capacitate only 26 irrigation schemes by putting business development managers who are going to help in the planning, implementation and running of projects as a business at a rural level because we are looking at rural development,” he said.
“We are saying how do we develop a rural farmer and rural projects and how do we industrialise them so that the farmer can at least be in a position to value add and realise a better return on every dollar that they are investing.”
The Arda chairman said the restructuring process has been a major challenge adding that they have since managed to fill in the key posts.
“There were a lot of challenges in terms of restructuring and making sure that the organisation is up and running. We had to restructure both on the operational side and the management side as well, whereby we started by recruiting a CEO and then respective directors for different departments and also making sure that we have the right people in place in most of the operations and that exercise is ongoing but the key posts have been filled,” he revealed.
Craig said the authority was making sure it would carry out farming activities and reduce partnerships with individuals who are carrying out their operations on its farms seconded by a manager on the ground.
“We are looking to make sure that as Arda we are farming rather than administering farming,” he said.