Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
Cabinet yesterday approved a US$51 million facility to be financed by John Deere for the supply of agricultural mechanisation equipment.
Apart from approving the facility, Cabinet also agreed on various strategies to improve productivity this summer cropping season.
This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa while presenting the 32nd Cabinet Decision Making Matrix yesterday.
“In a major boost for the Farm Mechanisation Programme, Cabinet approved a US$51 million facility to be financed by John Deere which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement (Perrance Shiri),” she said.
“The facility will involve the supply of agricultural mechanisation equipment so as to increase agricultural productivity and viability.
“The equipment to be imported under the scheme includes 80 combine harvesters, 1 300 tractors, 200 disc harrows, 400 planters, 200 seed drills, 100 boom sprayers, 100 tipping trailers and fast-moving spare parts for each of the equipment and machinery.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the facility will offer loans of between three to five years for participating farmers and will boost Government’s farm mechanisation programme.
“Furthermore, training will be given to farmers so as to guarantee sustainability of the programme. The facility will extend loans of 3 to 5 years to participating farmers from all the country’s eight provinces at a 5 percent interest rate.
“Under the facility, loans will be extended to participating farmers from all the county’s eight farming provinces,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa added that Cabinet was also briefed on the preparations for the 2019/2020 season by Minister Shiri.
She said after some discussion, Cabinet agreed on a number of key strategic thrusts for the oncoming season including the reactivation and supporting of farmers’ clubs and associations to enhance productivity on farms; that focus be on increasing productivity per unit area; that investors be encouraged to set up plants for the local manufacture of fertilisers and agro-chemicals; that local banks be facilitated to participate in the financing of agriculture; and that fertilisers and agro-chemicals be imported duty-free in order to ensure timeous availability and enhance productivity.
It was also agreed that communities be encouraged to adopt agro-processing technologies and to venture into horticultural production for the export market; that there be dedicated energy supply to farmers, including through targeted investment in solar power; and that irrigation rehabilitation be intensified in order to fully utilise the abundant water bodies.
Minister Mutsvangwa added that the duty-free importation of fertilisers and seed was open to any farmer with free funds to import the commodities.
Minister Shiri last week announced that the country was expecting normal to below normal rainfall this season.