GOVERNMENT has scaled up efforts to mechanise the agricultural sector in order to boost food security, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement secretary John Basera has said.
Basera recently told NewsDay Farming that they have introduced the John Deere and Belarus tractor facilities to support the nation's ambitious agriculture revival programme through mechanisation and modernisation of its farming activities.
He added that government will facilitate the importation of equipment from several sources for onward distribution to farmers by commercial banks.
“The ministry is on a drive to increase mechanisation capacity amid capabilities across all farming sectors. The target for 2022 was to distribute 1 500 units of equipment and implements,” he told NewsDay Farming.
By December 2022, Basera said a total of 1 641 units had been distributed.
“The ministry formed the mechanisation development alliance to galvanise public and private sector efforts to close the farming mechanisation gap. Under the mechanisation development alliance, the ministry signed up mechanisation facilities worth over US$200 million wherein the government will facilitate the importation of equipment from several sources for onward distribution to farmers by commercial banks,” he said.
Government said at least half a million farmers used tractors while 2,8 million would need mechanisation if the country is to fully utilise its 4,31 million hectares of arable land.
Basera said over 4 400 tractors will be imported under these facilities.
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“All the mechanisation development programmes follow a model wherein they are government facilitated and private sector led to increasing the levels of accountability. For the communal and smallholder sub-sectors, the ministry launched the Small Holder Mechanisation Programme in 2022 distributing 600 kits comprising two-wheeler tractors and attachments and implements,” he told NewsDay Farming.
In February, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko signed eight bilateral agreements in the fields of education, agriculture and economic co-operation at a ceremony held at State House.
The two leaders launched the second phase of the farm mechanisation programme after Zimbabwe had just received 1 300 tractors, 14 combine harvesters and disc harrows.
In the first phase, the Land Bank and CBZ gave 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters, and five low-bed trucks to farmers around the country.
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