The GOVERNMENT has begun setting up provincial farm mechanisation hubs to provide tillage, harvesting and logistics support to farmers during the 2021/2022 summer cropping season.
The Agricultural Finance Company Holding’s (AFC) leasing arm will deploy its fleet of 200 tractors and 40 combine harvesters to nine hubs that are being set up to boost the ongoing farm mechanisation programme ahead of commencement of the cropping season.
The fleet will be augmented progressively to include 500 tractors and 200 combine harvesters through enlisting local agricultural equipment manufacturing and distribution companies. Over 3,02 million hectares will be put under maize, traditional grains and soyabean during the forthcoming summer cropping season, with production expected to reach historic highs.
AFC will establish two hubs each in Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces, while Harare, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North and Midlands will have one hub each.
A new report outlining the state of preparedness for the cropping season tabled by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka in Cabinet recently, reads: “AFC Leasing Company will be involved in the whole mechanisation value chain from tillage services to harvesting, logistics and processing.
“The company currently has a total of 210 tractors and requires more tractors (64 x150 horsepower, 60 x105 horsepower and 50 x80 horsepower) and 40 combine harvesters.
“The plan is to have 500 tractors and 200 combine harvesters.
“The Ministry will engage local agricultural implements manufacturing and distribution companies for retooling with implements.
“The company will establish two mechanisation hubs in each of the three Mashonaland provinces (Central, East and West) in order to have mechanisation service close to the farmer.
“Harare will have one hub, Manicaland will have two hubs, while Masvingo, Midlands and the two Matabeleland provinces will have a hub each.”
The Government will set up a separate mechanisation programme for smallholder farmers contracted under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
This scheme will be supported through a loan scheme administered by banks.
“Smallholder farmers face tillage challenges due to losses of livestock to January Disease,” reads the report.
“The mechanisation of smallholder farmers is important to reduce the burden associated with manual basin digging (Pfumvudza).
“In 2021/2022 cropping season, the ministry will roll out the programme through establishing alliances with key partners to have a sustainable initiative to provide farm mechanisation equipment sets (starter packs) through a loan facility administered by banks to service providers.
“The starter packs will comprise a two-wheel tractor (16 horsepower), a double-row planter, a multi-crop sheller and a trailer (1,5 tonne).
“The selected service providers will be trained and capacitated to run year-round business of mechanisation service provision to farming communities in selected areas in the provinces and will be expected to pay for the equipment through revenue generated by providing service to farmers.”
According to Minister Masuka’s report, the Government has started distributing machinery acquired under the Belarus and John Deere farm mechanisation facilities.
Through harnessing equipment acquired under the first phase of the Belarus facility, tillage and harvesting capacity will increase by between 50 000 and 60 000 hectares during the forthcoming season.
In addition, harnessing the 60 tractors and 22 combine harvesters acquired via the John Deere facility will witness tillage and harvesting capacity increasing by a further 6 000 and 22 000 hectares respectively.