As Government is aiming to acquire 3 000 tractors this year from the John Deere and Belarus schemes to meet the country’s requirement of between 12 000 and 15 000 units to produce more yields, it has considered expanding and enhancing the farming capacity at the University of Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr. Anxious Masuka said the university had shown leadership in being a centre of excellence in the transformation that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education is looking at, this the need for the institution to access agriculture tools.
This comes after last week when Minister Amon Murwira had a tour visit at the University of Zimbabwe encouraging students to participate in the country’s agriculture production and this has seen Minister Masuka supporting the idea as the Government has plans of bringing more agriculture tools.
Minister Masuka said as Government continues to intensify the farm mechanisation programme and planning to bring more than 100 combine harvesters and tractors through Belarus and John Deereere Foundation before the end of the year, they have seen it imperative to intervene and increase the university’s capacity to harvest.
“We have seen that the university is doing 600 to 700 hectares of a combination of soya bean and maize and what we have said to them is that as a transition to a more intensive that will allow them to do wheat farming, it means they have to take out maize as expeditiously as possible.
“We also envisage bringing more than 100 combine harvesters before this summer season harvest again from the Belarusi and John Deere facilities. So two things are required for the university. First, they must have enhanced capacity to harvest that is why we would like them to access the combine harvesters under the Belarus facility and we have offered to facilitate the access to one such so that we can expand and enhance capacity at this university,” said Dr. Masuka.
He added that the university may also wish to look at a drier for maize which would then enable them to dry that maize very quickly even if they harvested it at about 28 percent moisture content.
As agriculture, he said, they were most pleased that the products that will come out of the University of Zimbabwe will be for entrepreneurs because they have ability to interact and interface with commercial agriculture.
Of the country’s target to acquire a target of between 12 000 and 15 000 tractors, Dr. Masuka highlighted that currently, the government has 6 000 working units.
“The intention is to bring 3 000 tractors and some of the attachments in the next 12 months and we already had the John Deere facilities which are bringing in 1 300 tractors. We have tranches of the Belarusi facility which is bringing in a cumulative 1 700 tractors so altogether. We will be able to meet our target of 3 000 tractors in the next 12 months. We also have attachments such as planters, boom sprayers, and herbicide applicators.”
He also highlighted that they have contracted local companies to produce boom sprayers and herbicide applicator’s so that it boosts the farming system and at the same time supporting local products.
“We however have limited the importation of these attachments so that we can then empower local companies to produce these items.”
He said the government was very excited and delighted that this increased and expected yield for 2021 will be met with enough capacity to be able to harvest especially for those farmers that want to quickly transition to winter wheat farming.