THIS report provides an overview on the state of preparedness for the 2022/2023 summer cropping looking at (a) tillage, (b) planting, (c) chemical application.
Farm mechanisation operations that include ploughing, ripping, planting, boom-spraying, fertiliser spreading, trailer works, harvesting, shelling and many others. This accounts for more than 60 percent of the production cost for most of our strategic commodities such as maize, soya beans, wheat and traditional grains.
The operations that are carried out by most farmers include ploughing or ripping, discing, planting, fertiliser spreading and boom-spraying.
However, crop yield is directly linked to time of planting meaning timely access to farm equipment for conducting all operations for crop establishment is critical.
National mechanisation requirements
The country continues with a huge deficit of tractors and related implements. Our national requirement for tractors and related implements is over 40 000 and only about 10 000 is currently available of which about 60 percent are functional.
This indicates a glaring gap of more than 30,000 tractors hence the importation and local production of farm equipment remains inevitable to bring transformation of the agriculture sector to reality. The capacity of the 6 000 available functioning tractors is estimated to be 600 000 ha against a targeted area of about three million hectares for maize, traditional grains and soya beans production under the 2022/23 summer cropping season.
To close the gaps in farm machinery the Government of Zimbabwe is currently involved in importing sophisticated farm equipment such as tractors, combine harvesters, planters, motorised and trailed boom sprayers whilst the simple implements such as ploughs, rippers, disc harrows, hitched boom sprayers, trailers and shellers/threshers are being procured locally through capacitation of the local manufacturers under the following facilities:
The facility is for US$103 million dollars divided into two phases and will see the country receiving 1 813 tractors, 76 combine harvesters, 210 planters and 5 low bed trucks.
The first phase is for US$51 million and has seen the delivery of all the equipment which includes 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters and 5 low-bed trucks. The equipment has been distributed to Government institutions, AFC Leasing Company of Zimbabwe and individual farmers through local banks and this has increased the 2022/23 tillage and harvesting capacity by 50 000 and 60 000 hectares respectively.
The second phase of the Belarus Farm Mechanisation, which is worth US$52 million, is going to unlock 1 337 tractors and 16 combine harvesters. Already 1100 tractors and 16 combine harvesters have been delivered. The equipment is being distributed to creditworthy farmers through local banks.
John Deere Farm Mechanisation Facility
The facility is for US$51 million and will see the country receiving 1300 tractors, 80 combine harvesters, 600 planters, 100 boom sprayers and 100 trailers.
The facility was divided into two phases and the first phase is for US$20 million with 525 tractors, 40 combine harvesters and 100 boom sprayers. To-date 60 tractors and 35 combine harvesters, 68 disc harrows and 48 planters have been delivered and distributed and this has increased the tillage and harvesting capacity by 6 000 and 22 000 hectares respectively. The balance of the equipment under first phase is being unlocked in tranches.
Local Manufacture of Farm Implements
To increase access to farm machinery, the Government of Zimbabwe is financing the local production of farm implements which will be used as attachments to tractors being imported under the John Deere and Belarus Farm Mechanisation facilities.
The equipment that is being manufactured includes 500 rippers, 500 disc ploughs, 800 disc harrows, 500 boom sprayers and 200 maize shellers. Five local companies have been contracted to supply 250 disc harrows, 700 disc ploughs, 500 rippers, 500 boom sprayers and 200 maize shellers.
The manufactured implements are being loaned to farmers through local banks.
To date the local companies have delivered 211 disc ploughs, 12 disc harrows, 5 maize shellers and 15 boom sprayers and these have been distributed to farmers through local banks.
AFC Leasing Company of Zimbabwe
To ensure that those farmers who cannot afford to purchase agricultural machinery have access to machinery, the Government, through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development created the AFC Leasing Company of Zimbabwe whose mandate is to provide affordable services to all categories of farmers from land preparation, harvesting, shelling and drying.
The AFC Equipment Leasing Company received from the Government of Zimbabwe 610 tractors, 56 combine harvesters, 4 low bed trucks, 140 seed drills, 120 disc ploughs, 10 disc harrows and 5 shellers which are accessible to all farmers. The farmers pay for the services through either cash payment or a stop-order system at GMB depots after delivery of their produce.
AFC Leasing Company started operations in September 2020 as a directive by the Government of Zimbabwe. The company has established 22 cluster centres across all provinces where the equipment is stationed for easy and timely access by farmers.
Provision of mechanisation services
The Department of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation, Soil and Water Conservation and post-harvest under the Ministry is mandated to ensure optimisation of farm mechanisation, coordination for timely access to farm machinery by farmers, procurement of farm equipment, research on farm mechanisation, training of machinery operation, repair and maintenance, designing, pegging and construction of contours, small earth dams and weirs as well as gulley reclamation. All these works are carried out by 26 engineers, 42 technicians and 25 artisans who are stationed in all provinces.
Timely accessing of mechanisation equipment will significantly amplify farm production and productivity. The boosted levels of mechanisation have a significant positive impact on the cost, output value, income and return rate of all types of crops. For every 1 percent increase in the level of mechanisation, the yields of all crops, grain crops and cash crops is estimated to have increased by 1.2, 1.6 and 0.4 percent respectively.
Source: department of agricultural engineering, mechanisation and soil conservation – ministry of lands, agriculture, fisheries, water and rural development, october 2022