The Sunday Mail
Government has mobilised about 300 combine harvesters for the 2022 winter wheat harvesting which commences next month.
The bulk of the equipment will be accessed through Agricultural Finance Company (AFC) Leasing Company.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development secretary Dr John Basera told The Sunday Mail on the sidelines of the Hwedza District Annual Agricultural show on Friday that the equipment will be accessed through mechanisation hubs countrywide.
“300 combine harvesters will be ready for hiring out and they are stationed at over 20 centres, inclusive of AFC commercial bank premises dotted around the country,” said Dr Basera.
“They are as close as possible to the farmers who have grown wheat.
“For the large-scale farmers, we already have a vehicle under AFC Leasing Company through which we have made available 47 combine harvesters and we intend to add more.”
He said a separate programme will witness private sector players leasing out combine harvesters “to our farmers at a minimum cost.”
He added Government was presently engaging more private sector players to join the initiative and “they are really happy to work with us as well.”
A record 78 000 hectares (ha) have been put under wheat this season, up from 66 000 ha last year.
Total harvest is projected at 380 000 tonnes against a national annual requirement of about 360 000 tonnes.
Dr Basera said more equipment was being procured from Belarus to enhance farm mechanisation.
“For the small-scale farmers, under the Belarus phase two programme, we are importing more harvesters and by the time we reach October − when harvesting will be in full throttle − we will have over 300 available.”
He said measures have been put in place to ensure that harvesting is not affected by fuel shortages.
“In terms of fuel, specifically for harvesting, we are working hand in hand with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development through their agents − National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe and Petrotrade − so that we make sure that fuel is readily available on time.
“We have a facility which is administered through Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) whereby we are allocating Zimbabwe dollar fuel to farmers.”
Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has been allocated 10 combine harvesters, he added.
The Department of Agricultural, Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation chief director Engineer Edwin Zimunga said:
“We have already distributed 79 combine harvesters acquired under the John Deer deal to most Government’s institutions including the army, prisons, District Development Fund and ARDA.
“The service charges are affordable for every farmer.
“We also distributed 47 to our mechanisation centres countrywide.
“We also have 16 more combine harvesters in transit and are expected to land anytime this month.”
Grain Marketing Board chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha said the parastatal was ready to take wheat deliveries.
“We already have more than 800 haulage transporters waiting for this task,” he said.
“They will assist in ferrying wheat to GMB depots. Our silos are also conditioned and ready to receive the cereal.”