Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
THE country needs more than 15 000 tractors for it to be fully mechanised in agriculture and be able to utilise land productively, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri has said.
Speaking during a briefing at the Midlands Agricultural Show yesterday, Minister Shiri said although the Government is making frantic efforts to mechanise agriculture, there is still a big gap in the provision of agricultural equipment.
Minister Shiri said the Government is working on introducing an agricultural mechanisation loan facility where farmers would pay a minimum deposit and be provided with equipment which they would then pay over a period of time. He said the country is expecting 80 centre pivots to bolster the irrigation sector and enhance productivity.
“As a country we need about 15 000 tractors for our agricultural mechanisation. At the moment we are still very far from achieving that but however, we are making tremendous efforts to address that challenge.
“We have equipment that we received from Belarus and also from Brazil under the Brazil More Food for Africa programme.
We also received centre pivots and we are expecting to receive 80 more this year. We are also coming up with a mechanisation loan facility for farmers but we would require them to pay something upfront,” he said.
Minister Shiri said the Government had noted with great concern the under-utilisation of Tugwi Mukosi Dam in Masvingo after experts recommended feasibility studies on how the country’s biggest inland water body can be utilised. He said Tugwi Mukosi had great potential of transforming the agricultural sector and the economy at large if properly utilised.
“At the moment Tugwi Mukosi is rendered dead capital. We took more than two decades constructing it and after we finished, experts started saying we need to do feasibility studies on how we are going to utilise it. These feasibility studies should have been done while the dam was being constructed. To us as a ministry besides the little water that we are channelling to Chiredzi we have not been able to utilise it. No much benefit is being derived from the dam,” he said.
Addressing exhibitors at the same show, Minister Shiri who was the guest of honour said Government has a number of on-going strategies to accelerate agricultural production and productivity on resettled farms in order to ensure its full contribution to the economy.
“The success of the previous two agricultural seasons has been largely due to these programmes. Some of the programmes that have been instituted to promote agricultural success are special programme for import substitution, Presidential input support scheme, irrigation development and mechanisation development. Other programmes include contract farming, extension support and farmers training as well as Agriculture Research and Development,” he said.
Minister Shiri who was accompanied by Midlands Minister of State, Cde Owen Ncube also toured stands.