HARARE, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday commissioned the first batch of farm equipment under a deal with Belarus.
The batch includes 163 tractors, 19 combine harvesters and low bed haulage trucks with more equipment expected before year end, Mnangagwa said at the launch in Harare.
The two countries also agreed on a 50 million U.S. dollars agricultural equipment deal, which would constitute phase two of the Belarus farm mechanization program.
"Zimbabwe requires more than 40,000 tractors and 600 combine harvesters with associated matching implements. It is out of this need to cover this gap and equip local farmers that my government engaged the Belarus government to establish the facility we are launching today," Mnangagwa said.
The Belarus farm mechanization facility deal follows engagements made by Mnangagwa last year with his Belarusian counterpart President Alexander Lukashenko when he visited that country.
Mnangagwa said the equipment would be distributed through local banks.
"Beneficiaries of the Belarus mechanization facility, like those for the John Deere facility, must be credit worthy farmers. The facility will be accessed through local banks who have been appointed as implementing agents," he said.
He said corruption will not be tolerated in the distribution of the equipment, with only productive farmers set to benefit.
Improving agricultural output for national food security as well as for raw materials for industry remained a top priority for the government, Mnangagwa said.
He said the use of modern equipment together with effective utilization of the country's water bodies will undoubtedly help the country to mitigate the impact of climate change.
"This will in turn have an enduring impact on sustainable economic recovery and growth given the centrality of agriculture in our economy," Mnangagwa said, adding that besides Zimbabwe's cooperation with Belarus in the agriculture sector, plans were underway to enhance cooperation in the mining sector.
Speaking at the same event, Agriculture, Mechanization and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka said the Belarus deal and the multi-million dollar deal with American firm John Deere, would help to boost agricultural production.
"All together, this brings the mechanization thrust to 152 million U.S. dollars in just 12 months and this will bring into the country a cumulative 3,000 tractors which is unprecedented in the history of our country," he said.
He said Zimbabwe has just over 6,000 tractors that were acquired over the past 20 years.
"In twelve months we have managed to get 3,000 units," he said. Enditem