Elita Chikwati

Agriculture Reporter

The US$51 million mechanisation facility using Belarus equipment and launched by President Mnangagwa yesterday is continued testimony to the country’s openness for business under the Second Republic, and its resolve to accelerate the sustainable modernisation and mechanisation of the agriculture sector.

All equipment in the first phase of the facility will be delivered by December while in the just agreed second phase an assembly plant will be established in Zimbabwe. Plans are also underway for Belarus equipment to be used in the modernisation of the mining sector.

During his tenure as Vice President in 2015, President Mnangagwa visited engineering companies in Belarus that manufacture modern agriculture equipment and in January last year, the President travelled to Belarus on a State visit and engaged his counterpart, President Alexander Lukashenko.

The two leaders committed to strengthen cooperation in several fields, culminating in the delivery of the first batch of equipment in an agriculture mechanisation facility made up of 163 tractors, 19 combine harvesters, 52 seed mills and four lowbed trucks. This is the batch of equipment launched yesterday. The entire Belarusian equipment facility will involve 474 tractors, 210 planters, 60 combine harvesters and five lowbed trucks with the rest expected over the next couple of months.

Under the facility farmers are expected to buy the equipment, and loans will be available Stanbic Bank and CBZ while Agribank will also participate through its special purpose vehicle on combine harvesters.

On Tuesday evening, Government and Belarus also agreed on another US$51 million facility which will see Zimbabwe receiving another 3 000 tractors.

Officially launching the facility yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the machinery would go a long way in enhancing production efficiencies, competitiveness and profitability in the agriculture sector.

Zimbabwe required 40 000 tractors and 600 combine harvesters with associated matching implements. This saw Government engaging Belarus to cover the gap.

“My administration remains open to ideas, perspectives, opportunities, partnerships and investments to revamp and grow the sector and the economy at large. As evident in the success scored to date, due to the robust and responsive policies being implemented by my Government and the active involvement of all Zimbabweans, I have no doubt that vision 2030 will soon be a success,” he said.

“Improving agriculture production and productivity for national food security and raw materials for industry remains top priority for the Second Republic. The use of modern equipment together with the effective utilisation of water bodies will undoubtedly help us to mitigate the impact of climate change. This will in turn have an enduring impact on sustainable economic recovery and growth, given the centrality of agriculture in our economy.

“The setting up of an after-sales service centre is commendable and will result in skills and technological transfer as well as the creation of jobs for our people. The proposal, which will eventually establish an assembly plant here in Zimbabwe, must be pursed,” he said.

President Mnangagwa commended the public-private sector entities for their increased cooperation with Government and urged them to work closely with farmers to ensure coordinated production, strong supply chains, effective marketing and financing of the sector.

He urged farmers to take farming as a business and not a hobby and urged them to be dedicated.

“All those with agriculture land have the weighty responsibility to be productive to feed themselves, the nation and also to provide raw materials to our industries. Let’s shun the culture of making excuses for non-production. Those with water bodies must fully use them,” he said.

He applauded Pfumvudza farmers and said the concept was in sync with heritage-based knowledge systems and would further enhance unity, harmony and love among communities.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the Belarus facility came at an opportune time when Government was making rigorous efforts to transform the agriculture sector.

He added that President Mnangagwa launched the Agriculture Recovery and Livestock Growth Plan in August, which are expected to lead to the realisation of Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle class economy.

“The agriculture sector, which is the backbone of the economy, has been experiencing severe challenges caused by climate change causing a threat to food security. Zimbabwe has been reeling from economic hardships caused by sanctions, coronavirus, droughts and recently Cyclone Idai.

“The Belarus equipment will enable Zimbabwean farmers to boost productivity on the land and to reduce losses through timely crop harvesting hence this will ensure food self-sufficiency and nutrition for our people and raise income levels,” he said.

Belarus Minister of Industry Piot Parhomchik, said the launch was clear evidence of the development and strengthening of the Zimbabwe-Belarus friendship.

“I am sure our mutually beneficial cooperation will benefit both economies. I thank President Mnangagwa for his efforts in comprehensive support in the implementation of the facility,” he said.

Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka urged beneficiaries to pay back loans.

“Agriculture is good business and good businesses pay back their loans. All beneficiaries should work hard to realise the much-needed profits to position themselves for the repayment of their loans,” he said.

This facility follows a similar facility in June with John Deere, an American manufacturer, in a deal also valued at $51 million.