Home » Business » U.S $38 Million Agric Equipment for 22 000 Households

At least 22 000 households from communal and A1 schemes, will benefit from the $38,6 million agricultural equipment secured from Brazil under that country’s Food for Africa Programme as Government steps up efforts to boost national food security and nutrition.

Agricultural experts hailed the move as a noble way to capacitate smallholder farmers who have played a pivotal role in food production despite having limited resources.

They said by modernising and commercialising smallholder farming, the nation would achieve household food security, which would eventually translate into national food security.

The equipment — to be supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development — includes tractors, fertiliser spreaders, lime spreaders and irrigation kits that will be distributed to identified irrigation schemes and farmer groups countrywide.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, yesterday said the programme sought to empower smallholder farmers, especially youths and women with modern machinery to boost production.

“The programme has a direct impact on food production. Farmers will be able to produce crops that will boost their income. Ending hunger is also an overall objective of the African Continent and Sadc. In Zimbabwe, we have a specific project

designed to benefit from this programme. The first tranche will focus on irrigation related schemes, resuscitating schemes in the A1 sector and communal areas.

“This programme will enable production of crops of all kinds including horticulture throughout the year. Most irrigation schemes that function will certainly produce surplus that will enable farmers to pay for the services rendered regarding the machinery,” he said.

Dr Made said farmers would collectively use the machinery.

“The programme will enhance tillage and planting services. Farmers outside irrigation schemes will be able to undertake other agricultural practices such as pest and weed control using knapsack sprayers, lime application to correct the soil pH (acidity and alkalinity) using lime spreaders and winter ploughing for moisture conservation. This will ensure early planting which is vital in crop production,” he said.

Dr Made said the equipment was not for free and not for individuals, but would benefit groups and schemes in specific identified project areas.

“The programmes is synchronised in terms of irrigation and mechanisation and farmers would collectively use the machinery and equipment. This is a major investment attraction project,” he said.

He said Brazil had a similar programme aimed at providing support to 20 million farming families whom he said could be equated to the local smallholder farmers particularly in the communal areas.

In Brazil, the project assists farmers to be food self-sufficient in terms of cereal or grain production and horticulture, which included fruits and vegetables as well as supporting livestock production and provides market opportunities.

“Surplus produce would be sold to local institutions such as schools and was linked to school feeding programmes across Brazil.

“Already, MAMID, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises Development are in the process of starting a programme of beneficiating the crops that would be produced on the targeted schemes.

“Farmers on the targeted projects will be able to produce crops, beneficiate and bring them to the market or store them as finished products and not sell in the raw form, “he said.

He said the livestock sector would also benefit from the programme since the stover from the crops would be used to manufacture livestock feeds.

Agriculture economist, Mr Midway Bhunu, said the programme would revitalise the agriculture sector, boost production per unit area and stabilise food prices.

He said groups ensured enforced responsibility on beneficiaries as members monitored each other.

“Smallholder farmers experience challenges with erratic rains as a result of climate change and irrigation is a solution. We have irrigation schemes with the potential to produce, but have been failing as the equipment was dilapidated. This machinery will ensure farmers improve on the quality of their produce since there is modern technology to be used across the production cycle from tillage, planting, weed control and harvesting.

“This is the beginning of modernising and commercialising agriculture. Production costs will be reduced as operations would be more efficient. Farmers will produce high quality produce that will fetch viable prices on the market,” he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said it was important to empower the food production base ( small holder farmers).

“We hope the next two phases will also benefit A2 farmers,” he said.

Agriculture economist, Mr Peter Gambara, said the programme would have a huge impact as small holder farmers were hardworkers.

“The move will change the economy. If we empower small holder farmers then we are guaranteed of a sustainable agriculture sector,” he said.

During the 201314 agriculture season, the Presidential Inputs Scheme supported 1, 6 million households with inputs to stimulate crop and livestock production and ensure food security and nutrition.

The support resulted in an increase of 82 percent in maize, 92 percent sorghum, 123 percent pearl millet, 43 percent in finger millet as well as production of adequate food crops to meet national food requirements.

Source : The Herald