The Government of Zimbabwe has signed a US $50m deal with John Deere. The deal will see the agricultural equipment manufacturer supply 1 300 tractors expected to benefit farmers during the 2019/2020 summer cropping season.
According to media reports, the tractors will be distributed to farmers on loan through Agribank. The Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Secretary Mr. Ringson Chitsiko and the John Deere managing director for Sub-Saharan Africa Mr. Antois van der Westhuizen signed the deal in Harare this past week.
This deal follows President Mnangagwa’s engagement with John Deere Agriculture Worldwide president Mr. Mark von Pentz, where the later registered his willingness to partner Government in boosting the agriculture sector through mechanization. Speaking after the signing ceremony of the deal, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri said the tractors will help farmers boost production and be competitive.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said John Deere was committed to working with Government to ensure food security through provision of farm equipment.
Zimbabwe has 4 130 000ha of arable land, with 1m ha under animal and manual draught power. The area under motorized draught power is 500 000ha, leaving the area requiring farm mechanization on 2.8m ha. Currently, the country requires 40 000 tractors and only has 12 000 of which 9 000 are functional, while 3 000 require repairs. This deficit of farm machinery and implements has been affecting agricultural production and productivity, hence Government’s intervention in sourcing machinery.
Under the John Deere deal, the Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Ministry will assist in the selection and training of beneficiaries on the use of the equipment. John Deere will provide funds for the facility and ensure equipment is manufactured timeously, while Agribank will provide the final selection of farmers to be granted the loans after full appraisal and depending on its lending policy.