Harare to commercialise farms

HARARE - Harare City Council is set to partner with Agriliance (Pvt) Ltd in a commercialisation project of the city’s three farms.

The three farms — Ingwe, Pension and Crowborough — were acquired in 1973 as part of the city’s sewerage treatment system.

According to business committee minutes, in 2013 council was loaned $600 000 by CBZ Bank as capital to start commercial operations at the farms, with the town clerk tasked with looking for a partner to manage and run the farms as viable businesses.

“The acting town clerk (Hosea Chisango) reported that Agriliance had approached council with a view to partner with the city in the cattle ranching business opportunity at Harare farms. The company would bring in funding and experienced management.

“The capital outlay would be equal to the value of the existing cattle herd and improvements relating to the cattle handling facilities at the farms in return for 50 percent profit share in the joint venture project,” read part of the minutes.

Chisango said the partnership between council and Agriliance would initially be for 10 years subject to renewal, with council retaining complete ownership of the farms.

He also said the deputy mayor Enock Mupamawonde and other councillors had toured one of Agriliance’s farms, Arda Nijo, to assess the company’s work.

“In May, councillors noted that Agriliance had planted 500 hectares of maize for commercial sale and seed at Arda Nijo. Agriliance even indicated that they were in process of commencing dairy farming at Arda Rusitu Estate,” Chisango said.

Currently, Agriliance’s operations are predominantly in Mashonaland West with farms in Chegutu, Selous, Ngezi, Banket, Enterprise, Mt Hampden, but it also has farms in Rusape and Chipinge, Manicaland.

Due to the deterioration of the farms and lack of maintenance, land invaders had camped on the pastures and started vandalising equipment.

Apart from invasions, Harare’s three farms are also faced with a myriad of problems such as lack of working capital causing a high mortality rate of cattle due to starvation and shortage of drugs, vaccines and supplementary fee.

The farms also do not have working tools like ploughs, grass cutters, hay bailers, graders, trucks and motor bikes.

“The current bull-to-cow ratio at the farms stands at one bull to 69 cows against the recommended one bull to 25 cows. The deficit is 53 and this has a direct negative effect on herd growth,” a 2016 report said.

Harare Municipal Workers Union had previously claimed that cattle were being illegally transferred during the night without relevant documentation and clearance particulars.

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