The just-completed rebranding of the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has helped re-align the authority's work with the developmental aspirations being pursued by the New Dispensation.
This dovetails with its robust transformational strategy that is gathering momentum.
In fact, ARDA is no longer the same following the rebranding exercise that has not only seen the authority's logo being changed, but also outlined a clear mandate to transform rural areas and uplift livelihoods in hitherto marginalised and disadvantaged communities.
With this rebranding, and while not reinventing the wheel, ARDA is going back to basics, ensuring that it delivers on its refocused mandate to guarantee national food, feed, fibre and bio-fuels security.
On the whole, the objective is to empower people in rural areas to banish poverty.
To do this effectively, ARDA has already established piloting 200-hectare irrigation schemes in each province which will act as models for rural farmers.
These schemes and other units are run as business units under the management of a resident ARDA scheme business manager, and the deployment of the managers has already begun in earnest.
Farmers on these schemes are shareholders who will get dividends once ARDA harvests and markets the produce.
Another important role for ARDA is the training of the farmers so that they adopt the best management practices.
Rural farmers have always struggled with getting markets for their produce, but ARDA has come up with interventions that provide transformative linkages for funding and marketing of produce from the rural irrigation schemes.
To top it up, ARDA is decentralising value addition by setting up mini-processing plants across all provinces and this is part of the authority's rural industrialisation agenda.
By doing this, ARDA is prioritising rural development considering that the majority of people live in the rural areas, yet they have been struggling to ensure they benefit from their farming activities.
This is because farming is the major source of income and food for rural people, and anyone who ensures crops are grown efficiently and increasing production hits the right chord for rural development.
This is the context under which the rebranding of ARDA should be viewed.
Rural areas will never be the same again because of the activities that ARDA will carry out that will change agricultural production for the better in the rural areas.
Speaking on the rebranding and what it aims to achieve, ARDA chief executive Mr Tinotenda Mhiko said: ARDA has embarked on a transformative rebranding exercise and it is with great pleasure that we unveil and present a new logo for the authority and refocused mandate to our clients and stakeholders.
"As an organisation, we are cognisant of the important role that agriculture and agro-industry development plays not only for the sustenance of livelihoods level, but of the economic development of our country at large."
Mr Mhiko said the rebranding means that the mandate for ARDA is now focused more on rural development and industrialisation and agriculture and agro-industry development.
"In line with our new mandate, the current trajectory is to establish ARDA as a vehicle for national food, feed, fibre and biofuels security anchored on the following pillars: rural development and industrialisation and agriculture and agro-industry development," he said.
"While driving these pillars, our objective is to ensure self-sustenance across all our operations countrywide and to lead by farming at our own administered estates, rural irrigation schemes and other rural development projects.
"We have had to embrace and deploy robust strategies to achieve quick-win solutions through smart agricultural practices to boost productivity in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner."
Mr Mhiko said ARDA was setting up comprehensive rural irrigation schemes and community development projects and the main focus was to ensure scheme business viability and sustainability.
"The objective is to run the irrigation schemes and community development projects as a business under the management of ARDA resident scheme benefit managers," he said.
"The current rebranding exercise will, therefore, reposition ARDA as an integral player in the agriculture and agro-industry sector by introducing new products and services for farmers across the value chain.
"ARDA will always remain indebted for the invaluable support from government as our shareholder. This will no doubt drive the concerted efforts being undertaken for import substitution and to re-establish Zimbabwe as the bread basket of Africa."
Mr Mhiko said going forward, ARDA was committed to re-capacitate all its estates and revive all the 450 rural irrigation schemes and other community development projects to maximise on production for national food, feed, fibre and biofuels security.
This will result in exports that will generate the much needed foreign currency.
"ARDA's new product range will see the deployment of technology and innovations that will see farmers benefiting from the yield output, value addition and access to markets at very competitive prices," said Mr Mhiko.
"This will go a long way in stimulating economic growth in associated processing and downstream industries. Further to that, the authority is geared towards establishing rural agro-processing plants in all strategic locations to guarantee markets and promote value addition and beneficiation of produce.
"This would ensure development and industrialisation of marginalised rural communities."
Mr Mhiko said the unveiling of ARDA's new logo marked "a new beginning and thrust for ARDA and I call upon all our stakeholders, farmers and strategic partners to cross-pollinate ideas as we work together towards the common objective of moving our country forward in pursuit of Vision 2030".
ARDA board chair Mr Ivan Craig said after completing its restructuring, ARDA was now undergoing transformation to establish itself as a vehicle for national food, feed, fibre and biofuels security.
"It is, therefore, my singular privilege to present to you all this rebranded ARDA as distinct from the old. In light of the above, ARDA is rebranding to re-position itself on the market.
"We are taking the opportunity to evolve our brand in order to better communicate the equity that ARDA truly represents and re-align with our refined value proposition and vision.
"It is envisaged that a strategically transformed ARDA will efficiently play its role in the implementation of programmes that underpin the current agriculture recovery process as guided by the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the National Development Strategy 1 and the Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Plan, all dovetailing with Vision 2030."
ARDA's new approach is important in that it will help rural areas develop and harness the rural-to-urban migration that has been exerting pressure on service provision in urban areas.
Rural farmers have been facing many constrains, but ARDA is now providing a platform that will ensure they get the skills, tools, technology and extension services that will change the way they operate.
In fact, rural farmers have often been viewed as the drivers of many economies in developing countries, despite that they cannot reach their full potential because of the various constrains they face.
The coming of ARDA is meant to fill this gap and ensure farmers in rural areas increase productivity.
The farmers will be able to provide raw materials and quicken the industrialisation of rural areas, fulfilling President Mnangagwa's declared trajectory that as the country develops, no one or place should be left behind.
The refocusing of ARDA's work means that poor yields that often characterise rural areas will be a thing of the past, as the farmers will be empowered enough to increase productivity.
This becomes a long term solution to food security for the whole country.
Offering good extension services as envisaged by ARDA will improve farmers' business skills and farming to increase the total yield and quality of their crops.
Once these schemes take effect, rural farmers should be amenable to building relationships with extension service providers who train them in key topics such as agricultural best practices, farm management and financial literacy.
ARDA is a parastatal established in terms of the ARDA Act whose mandate is to spearhead agriculture, rural and agro-industry development through the deployment of technology and smart agriculture practices across Zimbabwe.
As already alluded to earlier, its main focus is to guarantee national food, feed, fibre and biofuels security through the sustainable management and resuscitation of its estates and irrigation scheme businesses dotted around the country thereby making Zimbabwe an equitable and inclusive society. Indeed, the sleeping giant is awakening and this can only be a boon for the national economy at large.
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