Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
GOVERNMENT has released US$500 000 to the District Development Fund that will be used to repair broken down tillage machinery to increase the operational fleet for the 2013/2014 cropping season.DDF is now in the process of repairing the broken down implements and tractors that are meant to provide tillage for vulnerable households around the country. The DDF is operating 20 percent of the total fleet.
DDF deputy director-Land Development and Tillage, Mr Tambirai Chiwera said the company was targeting to till 32 000 hectares of land during this cropping season.
Mr Chiwera said due to the limited tillage capacity and the overwhelming demand for the services in the small holder farming sector, DDF was this season targeting the vulnerable in society who have no draught power.
“These include the aged, orphans, heroes’ widows or widowers and other vulnerable groups as defined by the Department of Social Welfare. We have commenced this programme with the Zunde Ramambo plots whose proceeds are traditionally used to assist vulnerable families.”
He said five tractors were distributed per province. These tractor units move in a cluster, tilling the Zunde Ramambo plots first before attending to fields of the orphans, heroes’ widows and the aged.
“We have 532 tractors but only 109 are operational. These are obviously not adequate for all the provinces as they only constitute 20 percent of the total fleet,” said Mr Chiwera.
“If those tractors with minor faults are repaired the target figure may be increased to 93 000ha. The target hectarage is lower than last year due to the limited funding for repair and maintenance.”
Out of the 532 tractors the company has, 109 are operational, 200 have minor faults while 223 have major faults. DDF has 411 ploughs, 81 working, 150 broken down with minor faults and 180 with major faults. Out of the 153 disc harrows, 35 are operational, 46 and 71 have minor and major faults respectively.
The company has 108 planters, 22 are working, 31 have minor faults while 55 have major ones. Eighteen of the 21 seed drills are working and three of them not functional due to major breakdowns.
Mr Chiwera said the US$500 000 disbursed by the Treasury was not adequate to cater for the repairs of the machinery and implements adding that more money was required to replace the broken down machinery.
The vulnerable households will have their land tilled for free as the charges will be paid for them by Government. DDF charges 32 litres of fuel per hectare for the dry rate and US$45 to till a hectare of land or US$88 for wet rate.
The dry rate is when the farmer provides fuel and pays for the tillage per hectare while the wet rate is when DDF provides both fuel and the tillage service.
The District Development Fund, is charged with the responsibility of providing and maintaining rural infrastructure within the communal, resettlement and small scale commercial farming areas of Zimbabwe.
Its programmes are funded by Government and the private sector.