Presidential Affairs and Monitoring the Implementation of Government Programmes Minister Joram Gumbo graced the handing over of equipment to the District Development Fund (DDF)as a welcome development ahead of the 2021/22 farming season. The District Development Fund (DDF) has received tillage machinery and equipment from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, a move that is expected to boost the department’s capacity to offer tillage services to smallholder farmers in both communal and resettlement areas and vulnerable households during the forthcoming 2021/22 summer copping season.
“The tillage division within the DDF which is mandated to provide tillage services to smallholder farmers in communal and resettlement areas. The DDF plays a critical role in the provision of tillage services to resettled farmers including ploughing, discing, planting and fertiliser spreading.
“There has been a gradual decrease in the number of tillage tractors and related equipment due to extensive use and the limited maintenance budget. From a peak of 800 tractor units the number of serviceable units has decline to around 100,” he said.
The national requirement for tractors and related implements is over 40 000 and only 10 000 is currently available of which about 60 percent is functional. Minister Gumbo said DDF required new equipment such as 100 tractors, 40 ploughs, 40 planters, 60 roam discs and 290 vicon spreaders to meet tillage requirements countrywide.
He, however, commended DDF for scoring successes in providing tillage services despite challenges. Last season DDF ploughed 2 000 hectares throughout the country under the food and security cluster.
DDF acting permanent secretary Mr Wilfred Kachitsa said the equipment will go a long way in helping farmers, especially the vulnerable, including child-headed families, and those who have lost their draught power to diseases.
The tractors will go a long way to ensure DDF offers tillage services to farmers, we still need more machinery so we can ensure equitable development throughout the country,” he said.
DDF director for land development and tillage Mr Tambirai Chiwera said the tractors will go a long way in helping smallholder farmers who do not have tillage facilities.
“Beneficiaries of the DDF tillage facility include the aged, child headed families, widows or widowers and other vulnerable and some farmers who lost their draught power to diseases.
“The programme also caters for the Zunde Ramambo plots whose proceeds are traditionally used to assist vulnerable families,” he said.
The machinery which includes 18-horsepower Belarus tractors and nine eight-row seed planters was drawn from the Belarus farm mechanisation programme launched by President Mnangagwa last year to capacitate farmers and improve production.
Handing over the machinery and equipment, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro said increasing smallholder production and productivity through mechanisation remained the ministry’s key policy thrust.
“The Ministry’s policy to prioritise appropriate farm mechanisation technologies will lead to sustainable development of agricultural production in Zimbabwe, and ultimately food security,” he said.