Maputo — The Mozambican government’s Agricultural Development Fund (FDA) on Wednesday received an Italian donation of 110 tractors, accompanied with ploughs and trailers.
The equipment was delivered at a ceremony in Manhica district, about 90 kilometres north of Maputo. The donation also included ten water pumps for irrigation, 20 water tanks, and a variety of material for processing cashew nuts. The entire donation is valued at 7.2 million euros (9.4 million US dollars).
The tractors and associated equipment will allow the establishment of Service Provision Centres (CPS) in all Mozambican provinces. These Centres are a key part of the Mozambican government’s agricultural mechanization programme approved in 2012.
Farmers who are unable to buy their own equipment will be able to hire tractors from a CPS for an accessible price. They will then be able to increase the area under cultivation, and thereby increase their production.
The Centres will be operated by private companies, to be selected by public tender. The companies will hire out the tractors and other equipment to farmers, though the fees to be charged have not yet been calculated.
The chairperson of the FDA board, Setina Titosse, told the Manhica ceremony that the strategy of creating the new centres was intended to reduce the difficulties experienced to date in making agricultural machinery available to farmers.
Previously, when tractors were made available to farmers, “monitoring showed that they did not use the machines to their maximum capacity, much less use them to support other farmers”, said Titosse. And when the tractors needed spare parts, the famers just parked them, and left them standing idle.
With the new scheme, it is private companies that will hire out the tractors. In theory, both the companies and the farmers will have an incentive to maximize use of the machines.
Asked if there any risks in the new model, Titosse replied “there are always risks, but what we are doing is minimising the risk. Since this is the first such experience, I think there will be some difficulties. But we shall monitor and identify the difficulties, and seek to improve matters over time”.
The central province of Manica has been allocated the largest number of these new tractors, 20, followed by Zambezia and Nampula with 15 each.
The new centres form part of the government’s strategic plan for agriculture, which seeks an increase in agricultural production of at least seven per cent a year.