Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe has received the first batch of agricultural equipment from Belarus expected to boost agricultural production and productivity and contribute towards the attainment of food security.
The equipment arrived this week at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Harare. Belarus is one of the five Eurasian countries visited by President Mnangagwa in January last year. The two countries (Zimbabwe and Belarus) sealed a number of deals ranging from supply of agriculture machinery, dam construction and mining.
One of the Memoranda of Understanding signed was a US$51 million inter-governmental agreement on the supply of agriculture equipment from Belarus.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro yesterday said: “So far 24 planters out of 52 have arrived.
“This is part of the first tranche of $13,33 million which also includes 100 x 80 horsepower tractors, 20 combine harvesters and five trucks and lowbed trailers.
“Delivery is expected to be complete by mid-June.
“The beneficiaries are to be selected by Agribank from the best farmers, who can pay 15 percent deposit with balance over five years,” he said.
A total of 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters and five trucks will be rolled out under the project.
Farmers that will benefit from the equipment will undergo training to guarantee the sustainability of the programme.
The facility will extend loans of three to five years to participating farmers from the country’s eight provinces at a 5 percent interest rate.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement has continued to implement innovative agricultural programmes and adopt robust policies to further reinvigorate the sector.
Agricultural mechanisation is important in Zimbabwe as it lowers costs of production and increases competitiveness though enabling farmers to leverage economies of scale.
Government has been promoting agricultural mechanisation so farmers can boost productivity and be globally competitive. Belarus and Zimbabwe have enjoyed diplomatic ties since 1992 following the break-up of the Soviet Union.
In September last year, a high-powered delegation led by the Belarusian chief of presidential affairs, General Victor Sheiman, visited Zimbabwe to follow up on the investment deals.