From George Maponga in Masvingo
ZIMBABWE has sealed a deal with India for the delivery of 500 tractors as part of efforts to mechanise the agricultural sector and boost productivity in the farms. Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Cde Davis Marapira said the light and heavy-duty tractors were sourced from the Asian nation under a government-to-government agreement.
“We will soon be taking delivery of some tractors from India that were sourced under a government-to-government agreement though I cannot disclose the figures involved. We expect the equipment to start arriving in the country within the next three months,’’ he said.
‘’The tractors will be for small-scale and large-scale commercial farmers and they will pay for them at relaxed terms. All this is part of a cocktail of measures introduced by Government to mechanise the agricultural sector and increase production,’’ he said.
Cde Marapira said the equipment from India would complement what Belarus, China and Brazil have offered.
Besides tractors, Government was also taking delivery of irrigation equipment such as centre-pivots as the nation shifts from over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture.
Cde Marapira said distribution of the irrigation equipment would be targeted at both small-scale and large-scale irrigation schemes countrywide.
“We do not have second thoughts on irrigation schemes when it comes to giving them farming and irrigation equipment on credit because we are guaranteed that they will pay back because they will have produced,’’ said Cde Marapira.
President Mnangagwa’s Government is prioritising the revival of the agricultural sector as part of efforts to ensure food security and revive the economy.
Government has since expanded the Command Agriculture scheme to cover not only maize but also soyabeans, cotton and tobacco as it seeks to boost the economy.
Meanwhile, Government is targeting 65 000 hectares of winter wheat as it intensifies efforts to boost its production and cut down on imports.
Last year the target was 40 000ha.
Cde Marapira confirmed the development.
He said financing mechanisms were already in place to ensure the target was achieved.
“Farmers will be getting inputs support from Government through the Command Agriculture programme, while others will grow the crop under contract farming because we are pulling out all the stops to make sure we meet the projected target and reduce our wheat import bill,’’ said Deputy Minister Marapira.
He said some of the wheat farmers would finance themselves.
Government is eyeing 200 000 tonnes of wheat.
“Our ultimate goal is to reduce our wheat import bill by making sure that this year we produce at least half of the nation’s annual wheat consumption of 400 000 tonnes,’’ he said.
Deputy Minister Marapira said this year’s wheat would largely be grown in the traditional growing regions of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces.
‘’However, it is interesting to note that of late Matabeleland South has been slowly emerging as a major wheat producing region and production figures continue to spike,” he said. “We are also looking at Midlands province to increase its wheat hectarage to boost output.’’
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government was putting in place mechanisms to ensure that wheat farmers had uninterrupted power supplies.
Command Agriculture has been a success, with Zimbabwe producing close to three million tonnes of grain last year.