Ellen Chasokela Herald Reporter
Government is expecting a delivery of 1 674 tractors in the next three months from foreign manufacturers as part of efforts to mechanise agriculture and boost productivity. The tractors are expected to benefit smallholder and large-scale farmers.
This was said by Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement director for mechanisation Mr Rabson Gumbo while officiating at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Farm Mechanisation and Conversation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) meeting last week.
Mr Gumbo said 1 674 tractors will be handed over to Agribank where farmers will access them at reasonable interest rates.
“The hindering problem in mechanisation was finance but now the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has intervened and we have been given money to import more equipment to support our farmers. We will be getting 1 200 tractors from John Deere, 474 from Belarus and some from India.
“The tractors cater for small-scale and large-scale commercial farmers and they will pay for them at relaxed terms. Farmers will be expected to pay back over a period of five years and they should be charged not more than five percent interest,’’ he said.
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) research project manager Mr Eric Huttner said small-scale farmers’ mechanisation will complement farm labour, which is growing scarce due to urbanisation, the increase in off-farm jobs and ageing rural populations.
CIMMYT scientist, Dr Frederic Baudron hailed Government for the support the organisation was getting.