September 19, 2023

Government announces transformative measures for the agricultural sector

At least 2.7 million communal households will benefit from 35,000 two-wheel tractors replacing the traditional hoe and plow system as part of a transformative government initiative aimed at changing lives and livelihoods across the country .

In addition, 5,000 field schools and 4,000 animal husbandry schools and veterinary schools for agricultural development have been established across the country as the country implements sweeping changes to steer the agricultural sector towards $8.2 billion industry by 2025.

The range of measures, announced by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Anxious Masuka, in Harare yesterday will also see 400,000 peri-urban farmers benefit from the Presidential Input Scheme in a development that leaves no one or room behind who is championed by President Mnangagwa.

The measures are also part of the National Development Strategy 1 (SND1) which places particular emphasis on the mechanization and modernization of agriculture.

The transition to two-wheeled tractors is expected to benefit millions of people across the country and prove useful, especially as some farmers have lost their livestock to disease.

In addition to targeting small-scale farmers, commercial farmers will also benefit as 3,000 tractors are expected in the country, as part of measures to ensure food security, save foreign exchange from grain imports and reposition . Zimbabwe as a major supplier of agricultural products in the world.

Addressing a press conference at his offices yesterday, Dr Masuka says the tractors come from Belarus and the John Deere installation in front of United States company.

“We have 2.7 million household units in the country who still use plow and hoe. A recent survey by Zimvac (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee) showed that half of households do not own cattle and have trouble working the soil hopefully Pfumvudza/Intwasa can help but mechanization from Pfumvudza/Intwasa itself is a must and we are importing 600 units of two wheel tractors which we will donate to service providers in the villages, we already have 68 who have arrived in the country.

“In this space, we need at least 35,000 units of two-wheel tractors to be able to mechanize common areas to increase this productivity,” he said.

Dr Masuka said some components of the tractors will be manufactured locally while the import of other tractors for resettled and large-scale farmers is in progress.

“In the past, we used to import parts like disc harrows, we need to localize the production of these attachments. We are accelerating the mechanization program,” he said.

For large farmers, the government will bring in more than 3,000 tractors by August this year.

“We have already put more than 1,000 tractors under the Belarus and John Deere facilities. I expect 1,337 tractors to arrive in the next two months. More than 80 of these tractors are already in the country and will be distributed through financial institutions.”

Dr Masuka said the government has moved from Command Agriculture to the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme where instead of giving direct inputs to farmers they will now create discipline among farmers so that for sustainability purposes they go through institutions financial.

He said the financial aid would come through government-backed programs at banks such as CBZ and AFC, with farmers having access to the equipment they pay for over a three-year period and with a deduction 15% on the deposit made at a point of sale with the grain marketing board.

“From this year, 400,000 peri-urban farmers will also benefit from the presidential input regime which is a productive social regime where they do not pay.

“This contract between the president and households will produce enough food to feed farmers and their families, with the surplus flowing to the GMB,” he said.

Dr Masuka said of the 5,000 farmer field schools established, the program targets agricultural production with every Agritex agent set up to lead in practice.

“In the past we had Agritex agents as extension workers and trainers, now we have changed our whole extension system from Agricultural Extension 2.0 for Extension and Training to Agricultural Education for Development to include entrepreneurship, l innovation, research and development.

“The Agritex worker will run a farmer field school and teach best management practices before farmers go out and do the same,” he said.

Dr Masuka for livestock, they will have 4,000 veterinary and livestock development field schools.

“There will be a (school) in every dip tank. We no longer have these places just for disease control but also a place where best practices are taught, including the application of tick grease and the manufacture household foods,” he said.

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