Government is targeting to mechanise close to 3 million hectares of arable land across the country to improve agricultural productivity after cabinet approved a farm mechanisation deal with global tractor manufacturing company, John Deere, which consists of the supply of 80 combine harvesters and 1300 tractors.

Zimbabwe’s economy is anchored on agriculture, with inadequate farm mechanisation being seen as the missing link resulting in a decline in agricultural production.

Agronomist Mr John Bhasera said the move is expected to help increase yields which are at critically low levels.

“Yields are very low because farmers are financially handicapped to acquire adequate implements such as tractors and combine harvesters, hence this deal will be affordable enough to allow those farmers to increase their yields,” said Mr Bhasera.

Agricultural Economist, Mr Cornwell Muzhanye said mechanisation will be critical, as the country moves towards industrialisation and modernisation.

“After the successful Land Reform Programme, many infant farmers faced major hurdles to maintain the productivity levels set by former commercial farmers due to lack of funding to purchase mechanised facilities, hence this deal is a shot in the arm for such a drive,” said Mr Muzhanye.

The John Deere deal follows the approval of another pact between the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and Maka Irrigation for the construction of irrigation facilities on 100 000 hectares of land countrywide as a drought mitigation measure.

This comes at a time when there are less than 10 000 tractors against a requirement of at least 40 000 and about 100 combine harvesters instead of 500 required across the country.