President Mnangagwa is today expected to launch a US$58 million farm mechanisation facility from Belarus, while another deal worth US$100 million would be signed by year-end.
Belarusian Minister of Industry, Mr Piotr Parhomchik, yesterday paid a courtesy call on the President at State House ahead of the commissioning of the facility at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Hatcliffe, Harare.
Mr Parhomchik was accompanied by the Honorary Consul of Zimbabwe to Belarus, Mr Aleksandr Zingman, Belarusian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Alexander Sidoruk, president and chief executive of the Eastern and Southern Africa Trade and Development Bank Mr Admassu Tadesse and Development Bank of Belarus chairman, Mr Andrei Zhishkevich.
Today’s occasion is part of a project started in 2018 when the governments of Zimbabwe and Belarus agreed to a mechanisation programme for the farming and timber industries and will see over 800 units of equipment being delivered in two batches.
These include among others: 60 self-propelled grain harvesters, 210 precision seed drills, 474 tractors of different power capacities, fifth wheel trucks with semi-trailers for transportation of heavy equipment and four dump trucks.
Also on the list of the equipment are six semi-trailers with hydraulic manipulator for transportation of construction machinery, 10 drop-side trucks, firefighting equipment critical in forest business, cities and other communities and emergency rescue operations.
The equipment also includes 30 motorcycles and a complete set of spare parts for every type of machinery and equipment delivered.
Implementation of the project includes the organisation of an all-inclusive centre in Harare for service and warranty support for the machinery and equipment.
It comes after the Government launched a similar facility from a US company, John Deere, in June this year to the tune of US$50 million that is also meant to boost agricultural production.
Speaking after meeting President Mnangagwa, Mr Parhomchik said the visit sought to bolster the two countries’ relations and honouring the previously-agreed projects before furthering the US$100 million agreements.
“We discussed with the President today the opening of the service centre, which will service all of the vehicles that are here in the country.
“Today, we did an inspection of the service centre and we are hoping that in the next two months, there will be an official grand opening of the centre so that they will be able to start receiving the vehicles,” he said.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said the development was such an exciting one as it would ensure the nation’s food self-sufficiency through capacitation of farmers.
“Indeed, we are excited that the minister for industry from Belarus is here for the launch of the Belarus mechanisation facility, which will go a long way in ensuring that we sufficiently capacitate Zimbabwean farmers to produce.
“We are excited that the first tranche of 163 tractors and 19 combine harvesters will be officially launched tomorrow (today). But more importantly, the bulk of the equipment will be received before the end of the year,” said Dr Masuka.
The unique relationship that looked into the after service matter, would go a long way in ascertaining skills transfer and ensuring full utilisation of the supplied equipment, thus prolonging its lifespan.
“We are transforming agriculture so that Zimbabwe can become food secure again. We are very excited about this visit and the launch which will allow us to move to a food security zone.”
The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services described the development as a game changer, saying special attention would be given to organising training classes for Zimbabweans (for each farmer) on the basis of the service centre that was covered by the project.
Moreover, training in Belarus would be organised for Zimbabwean technical specialists for a duration of at least two months.
“The training includes practical classes in every manufacturing plant. The implementation of the project also involves an all-in approach that includes not only full responsibility regarding warranty and service support, provision of spare parts, training of local specialists, but also providing advanced technologies, comprehensive decisions and solutions in agriculture for every agricultural period from cultivation, seeding, irrigation, planting to crop harvesting,” said the ministry.