Acting President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga has arrived at ARDA Antelope Estate in Maphisa, Matobo District, to appreciate operations at the facility. He is accompanied by Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri.
The estate, which has put 650 hectares under wheat production, is one of the leading producers of cereals in the drought prone region.
An excess of 5 000 tonnes of wheat is expected to be harvested this season.
Hundreds of villagers in Maphisa were evicted last year to pave way for an Arda expansion project.
Villagers of Zvehamba, Matankeni and Mahetshe in Matobo district are engaged in a bitter land dispute with Arda Antelope Estate, amid accusations that the latter is illegally grabbing their land to pave way for its joint farming venture project with petroleum giant, Trek.
So nasty is the fight that Arda Antelope employees in Maphisa now face death threats from villagers.
The villagers filed a High Court application suing Arda for allegedly invading their ancestral lands and annexing it for expansion of their joint venture project.
In their application, the villagers claimed Arda and Trek forcibly invaded their homesteads, farming and grazing land without a court order.
Arda and Trek Petroleum, however, challenged the application, accusing the villagers of encroaching into Arda’s land.
Arda claimed it acquired the disputed land during the Rhodesian era when it was operating as Telcor.
The joint venture project between Arda and Trek Petroleum will see farming operations being expanded by a further 400 hectares, a development frowned upon by villagers at Zwehamba, Matankeni and Mahetshe villages.
Speaking to the ZBC, ARDA Director of Operations Mr Batetsi Noko said the parastatal’s plans to expand to 3000 hectares is being hampered by inadequate water supplies, hence the need for the construction of the proposed Mwewe dam.
Currently the irrigation scheme is drawing water from Antelope and Shashane dams, thereby limiting its expansion drive to just 1000 hectares.
Meanwhile, ARDA Antelope Estate will this season diversify to soya bean production.
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