Kudakwashe Mhundwa Business Reporter
Government has signed contracts with Belarus and John Deere for the supply of agriculture mechanisation equipment worth US$100 million, as it moves to close Zimbabwe’s mechanisation gap that is estimated to be falling short of about 543 000 agricultural implements.
This comes as farmers have blamed subdued levels of agricultural production on inefficient and obsolete equipment that they are using.
Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Vangelis Haritatos told The Herald Business that Government is at advanced stages for the sourcing of agricultural implements from the two financiers and is expecting to start receiving 1 000 tractors from next week.
“We are at an advanced stage, we have signed contracts with the Belarusian Government and John Deere. I am flying out to Belarus for the whole week to ensure that the deal pushes forward. The Belarusian financial amount is US$52 million, the John Deere amount is US$50 million and it is to supply the country with tractors, combine harvesters, planters to name a few.
“Mechanisation is certainly a huge problem that we have got in Zimbabwe because we have 33 000 tractors, 500 000 combine harvesters and 10 000 planters in deficit so we need to cover that deficit quickly for us to grow the agricultural sector,” he said.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said Government intends to close the country’s mechanisation gap within the next three years.
“The deficit has to be covered in the next two to three years we have no option climatic change is upon us and we need to attain self-sufficiency as a country because agriculture is the back bone of our economy.
“In the next few weeks we should start taking about a thousand deliveries of tractors which is a great start to a major problem that we have,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos
The coming on board of John Deere and Belarus, and its investment commitment, is on the back of President Mnangagwa’s call for investment into the country as a key pillar for economic development towards the attainment of upper middle income status by 2030.
The President has also identified agriculture as a catalyst for investments and economic growth that has the potential to stimulate exports, reduce poverty, create jobs and improve people’s general livelihoods.
There is greater need for research and development into different models and sizes of agriculture equipment suitable for communal, A1, A2 and the commercial farming sector.
The country embarked on a successful land reform programme that has seen Zimbabweans being proud owners of land but there is a need for huge investment in mechanisation equipment that suit all levels of farmers if production is to be upped.