Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector is set for a major boost after the world-acclaimed manufacturer of agriculture, construction and heavy equipment – John Deere – started talks with Government with a view to concluding a US$50 million deal that could see the firm providing hi-tech agriculture equipment.
Representatives of the conglomerate met with senior Government officials in Harare on Wednesday led by the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Justin Mupamhanga. After the meeting the firms revealed it was committed to invest locally.
Speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting, John Deere managing director for Sub-Saharan Africa Mr Antois van der Westhuizen said his firm and Government were working on modalities that will see the former helping in guaranteeing food security through mechanised farming.
Westhuizen said, in addition to the supply of equipment, his firm also commits to capacity-building among farmers, farmer training and general up-skilling with a view of creating wealth for the farmers and the country.
“Our discussion with the Zimbabwean Government is about how do we assist them enhancing agriculture development and mechanisation,” Westhuizen said.
“So all our discussion now is about how we make funds available and how we can assist in getting proper mechanisation and bring technology into Zimbabwe to help with food production and eventually help Zimbabwe in creating food security for the country.
“I think the idea is we want to make a permanent difference in Zimbabwe, so to come in we really have to look at the proper value and we are currently looking at about between US$20 (million) and US$50 million of investment into the agriculture sector here.
“We (are) still deliberating on exactly the structure of that facility . . . we also offer additional value that we are presenting, we are looking at capacity building, we are looking at training (and) up-skilling.
“(We also want to train farmers) to be proper businessmen and create not only food security but also wealth for the farmers and the country,” he said.
No comment could be obtained from the Government team yesterday.
The coming on board of John Deere, and its investment commitment, is on the back of President Mnangagwa’s calls for investment into the country as a key pillar for economic development towards the attainment of upper middle income status by 2030.
The President has also identified agriculture as a catalyst for investments and economic growth that has the potential to stimulate exports, reduce poverty, create jobs and improve people’s general livelihoods.
There is greater need for research and development into different models and sizes of agriculture equipment suitable for communal, A1, A2 and the commercial farming sector.