ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe has entered into an agriculture mechanisation deal with Belarus and John Deere, manufacturer of agriculture equipment, valued at US$100 million.

Under the agreement, the two will supply agriculture mechanisation equipment aimed at closing the mechanisation gap that is estimated at 543 000 agricultural implements aimed at improving productivity, reports The Herald.

This comes as farmers have blamed subdued levels of agricultural production on inefficient and obsolete equipment that they are using.

According to Vangelis Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands and Agriculture, the government is at advanced stages for the sourcing of agricultural equipments from the two financiers and is expecting to start receiving 1 000 tractors from next week.

“We are at an advanced stage, we have signed contracts with the Belarusian Government and John Deere.

“The Belarusian financial amount is US$52 million, the John Deere amount is US$50 million and it is to supply the country with tractors, combine harvesters, planters to name a few.

“Mechanisation is certainly a huge problem that we have got in Zimbabwe because we have 33 000 tractors, 500 000 combine harvesters and 10 000 planters in deficit so we need to cover that deficit quickly for us to grow the agricultural sector,” he said.

He highlighted that the government intends to close the country’s mechanisation gap within the next three years.

“The deficit has to be covered in the next two to three years we have no option climatic change is upon us and we need to attain self-sufficiency as a country because agriculture is the back bone of our economy,” he said.

Early this year, John Deere managing director for Sub-Saharan Africa Mr Antois van der Westhuizen, said the company and the government were working on modalities aimed at helping in guaranteeing food security through mechanised farming.

The investment in the sector comes as a boost to President Mnangagwa’s ambitions of diversifying the country’s economy through agriculture- which he identifies as a catalyst for investments and economic growth.

The country also embarked on a successful land reform programme aimed at improving land ownership, which according to economists still presents a huge investment gap in mechanisation that suits all levels of farmers in order to improve production.