From George Maponga in Masvingo
HIGHLY mechanised farming equipment from Brazil worth over $34 million secured under the second phase of the $98 million loan facility is expected in the country next month.
The equipment, coming under the “More Food for Africa (Zimbabwe) programme, includes tractors, planters, centre pivots and fertiliser spreaders, among others.
The successful Command Agriculture scheme is set to get a major boost from the equipment expected in September and October.
Zimbabwe first received state- of-the-art farming equipment from Brazil under the facility in 2014 when it got $38 million worth of agricultural machinery.
Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, mobilised the facility.
Last year Government introduced the Command Agriculture programme, which seeks to make Zimbabwe food secure and stop food imports through supporting farmers with agricultural equipment and inputs on loan.
The country is expecting a bumper harvest of food to top the four million tonnes mark following a successful 2016-17 farming season that was buoyed by Command Agriculture and Presidential Input Support Scheme.
Government has already announced that funding for the scheme would more than double from last year’s $192 million to about $487 million in the forthcoming season.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Cropping) Davis Marapira yesterday said the loan facility from Brazil would give further impetus to the country’s food initiatives.
He said under phase two of the facility, small-scale irrigation schemes, communal farmers and model A1 farmers close to water sources, would get agricultural machinery and irrigation equipment to enhance their farming operation.
‘’Under the second phase of the Brazil facility, we will get farm mechanisation equipment such as tractors, planters and fertiliser spreaders among other implements together with irrigation equipment such as centre pivots and hose reels among other things that we will give to our farmers who are close to water sources so that they venture into irrigation farming,’’ he said.
‘’We expect to start receiving the equipment worth about $34 million in the next two to three months and this will give a major boost to the Command Agriculture scheme because farmers who benefit under this facility will be guaranteed of good harvest even in the event of drought because they will be relying on irrigation,’’ he added.
Deputy Minister Marapira said Zimbabwe’s irrigation capacity would be greatly enhanced by agriculture and irrigation equipment from the Brazilian facility as the employment of latest technology in farming boosted yields.
‘’We now want to use latest technology in our agriculture sector because it is efficient and will bring up yields. This will be a big boon for Command Agriculture and the country’s economy at large. However, we want to emphasise that those who benefit under this facility will have to pay back,’’ he added.