The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE will this year start producing farm equipment locally, with some of the first products expected to be out by March.
The latest development is a result of the innovativeness of local hubs in their bid to modernise the operations of farmers.
Through reverse engineering (reproduction of another manufacturer’s product), Government has supported local manufacturers through the provision of equipment and partnership with universities, army engineers and the Institute of Agricultural Engineering (IAE) on the project.
Zimbabwe is tapping into its good bilateral relations with Belarus, which saw Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Mr Piotr Parkhomchik leading a delegation to Harare in October last year following President Mnangagwa’s State visit to Minsk in 2018.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said plans to mechanise and modernise the agriculture sector will flourish in 2023. “The mechanisation of agriculture is one of the pillars that will make Vision 2030 achievable. In order to achieve an upper middle-income economy agriculturally, we need to cut costs on imports and start inward-looking.
“We should see a full complementary set for smallholder mechanisation, driven by two-wheel tractors, coming on the market by December 2023. This is a product of our reverse engineering drive.
“Other prototypes like threshers are already at advanced development stages, having gone through various trials in the previous year, and these should be on the market by March 2023. The other sophisticated centres should come online by September 2024.”
The production will see maximum utilisation of local resources and create jobs for local engineers.
“Under the ‘nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’ mantra, we have seen that, even with the financial resources to fund development, we are, as a nation, able to raise it locally,” said Dr Basera.
He noted that one of the major raw materials, steel, will be readily available, with the Manhize steel plant in Chirumhanzu coming on board. In addition, there are numerous foundries and steel-making plants dotted around the country. Dr Basera said Zimbabwe, in terms of human capital, is training engineers under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Education 5.0 programme. Chief director responsible for Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation Engineer Edwin Zimunga said mechanisation is the backbone of agriculture.
“We cannot talk of agricultural transformation without mechanisation. We can only import the idea of manufacturing but we cannot continue to lose our money through equipment purchases.
“By reverse engineering, we mean innovation and creative development of equipment, machinery and various tools and gadgets from the existing foreign commercial models by adapting such items to suit local conditions,” said Eng Zimunga.
The process, he said, involves modification, drawing, designing, manufacturing and mass production of a technology under local conditions.
“As a country, we have a huge need for agricultural equipment, the bulk of which we import. The market is already yearning for this equipment and we are there to close that gap,” he said.
To address this agricultural equipment gap, Government adopted a holistic approach, by promoting second generation engineering in a collaborative manner under the Agricultural Mechanisation Development Alliance (AMDA) framework mooted by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.
“Currently, local engineers, with the support from ADMA, have set targets of five prototype technology in developing two-wheel tractors, grain threshers, disc harrows and boom sprayers.”
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