ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe has approved a US$51 million farm equipment deal with John Deere for the supply of agricultural mechanisation equipment, to boost the Farm Mechanisation Programme.

The loan arrangement will be handled by Agribank, the state-owned farm lender.

According to the government, Zimbabwe needs 40 000 tractors, but only 9000 are available to work Zimbabwe’s 4 130 000ha of arable land. Of this land, one million ha is under animal and manual draught power, with just 500 000ha mechanised.

“In a major boost for the Farm Mechanisation Programme, Cabinet approved a US$51 million facility to be financed by John Deere which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement,” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

John Deere manufacturer of agriculture machinery through its Zimbabwe subsidiary TA Holdings will supply 80 combine harvesters, 1 300 tractors, 200 disc harrows, 400 planters, 200 seed drills, 100 boom sprayers, 100 tipping trailers and spare parts.

“The facility will involve the supply of agricultural mechanisation equipment to increase agricultural productivity and viability.” Monica Stated

Farm Mechanisation Program targets farmers from 8 provinces of the country who will be given training to ensure its sustainability. They will also be extend loans of 3 to 5 years to at a 5% interest rate.

The John Deere deal had been on the cards for close to a year but had been delayed over Zimbabwe’s foreign currency shortages.

The drought this year has hit sales at local tractor suppliers. Farmec, which sells Massey Ferguson tractors in Zimbabwe, saw volumes down 43% in the first five months of 2019. In the first four months of 2018, tractor sales were up sharply, rising 76% compared to the previous year, driven by demand from Command Agriculture.

In 2018, India’s Mahindra announced plans to set up an assembly plant in Zimbabwe and delivered an initial batch of tractors for small scale farmers. However, the plan is yet to take off.