ZIMBABWE expects to receive 80 centre pivots worth over $6 million from Spain to aid irrigation under Command Agriculture, as Government moves to adopt new technologies and strengthen infrastructural development in support of the successful import-substitution programme.
Negotiations are under way for another facility worth $60 million for bigger equipment from the same country, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said yesterday.
The 80 centre pivots will come in batches of 20 and the first batch has now been prepared for shipment, with installation of the units expected to start next month.
The centre pivots will range in size from those which can irrigate 20 hectares to those for 80 hectares.
Dr Made said the centre pivots from Spain signified a new thrust of embracing new technology in agriculture to complement new programmes being implemented in the sector.
He said more companies manufacturing agricultural equipment from other European countries like Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Turkey had expressed interest in dealing with the local market. Dr Made said he was happy with progress taking place in Command Agriculture pertaining to infrastructural development.
"I am pleased that manufacturing of the centre pivots is going on well," said Dr Made. "I am happy that we are going to have an additional facility. We are negotiating to increase the facility from $8 million to an additional $60 million."
Dr Made said Spain had seen an opportunity to demonstrate its machinery and equipment in Zimbabwe.
"The land reform and Command Agriculture have presented a business opportunity for countries manufacturing agricultural machinery and equipment," he said.
"The additional $60 million facility will be bringing more and bigger centre pivots."
Dr Made yesterday held a meeting with one of the major agricultural water management companies concerning French technology and irrigation aspects.
He said he discussed about the supply of more agricultural equipment to Zimbabwe with the French firm.
"Every farmer who is going to be facilitated with irrigation equipment under Command Agriculture or any other programme must make sure that they are saving money so that when the time comes to deposit or to make good it is available," he said.
"It is the confidence of farmers through paying back that we will continue to get lines of credit under Command Agriculture. First recipients should set a good example in maintaining equipment and paying back. It is this confidence we are building under Command Agriculture that we will pay back."
Dr Made said farmers had already started delivering maize being harvested this season to the Grain Marketing Board.
He said there were lots of enquiries from companies that wanted to supply Zimbabwe with farming equipment.
It is because of the confidence being built in relation to recovery, he said.
"This shows the urgency of setting up a mechanisation and irrigation authority because with that modern and high quality equipment there is need for a specialised institution focusing on assisting farmers and negotiating lines of credit," said Dr Made.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said Government wanted to boost agricultural production and productivity through expanding irrigation facilities.