Wimbainashe Zhakata Post Correspondent
THE District Development Fund (DDF) needs at least $250 000 to put back its tillage fleet in Manicaland on track and be able to meet tillage demand on the backdrop of Command Agriculture and the tobacco planting.
DDF is currently failing to meet high tillage demand from farmers due to breakdown of tractors, ploughs and disc harrows, among others.
So dire is the situation that DDF is being forced to auction its old equipment to raise funds to repair its broken down tractors to increase the operational fleet so that it copes with increasing demand for tillage services as farmers are building back and reinvesting in the land for the 2018/19 season.
The DDF has only two fully functional tractors in Manicaland.
The head of DDF Manicaland Mr Robert Chawatama told The Manica Post this week that demand for tillage was too high and several old tractors, disc harrow, planters, lorries, grader and other equipment were being sold to raise funds to buy critical spares.
“We need a lot of money, approximately $250 000, to repair the equipment. If we can have more brand new tractors that will be fine rather than having repair replacements,” said Mr Chawatama.
DDF charges 30 litres of fuel per hectare for the dry rate and $45 to till a hectare of land or $88 for wet rate.
The dry rate is when the farmer provides fuel and pays for the tillage per hectare while the wet rate is when DDF provides both fuel and the tillage service.
The DDF is charged with the responsibility of providing and maintaining rural infrastructure within the communal, resettlement and small scale commercial farming areas.
“As a province we have been allocated 17 tractors, and only two are working. Among the 17 tractors, eight have minor breakdowns and seven are on major breakdowns. Those with major breakdowns need engine, hydraulic system and gear box repairs,” said Mr Chawatama.
He also said they have 20 ploughs for the whole province, of which only four are working; 12 are on major break down and four on minor breakdown.
Mr Chawatama said they have forwarded their request for better tillage units to Government.
“Government is aware of the situation and is working on supplying us with new equipment to replace the old fleet that we have. We would be better off with new sets of tractors, disc harrows and ploughs, among others.
“Government has started bringing new equipment to replace the old tractors, they gave us new tyres and more are still coming,” he said.
Mr Chawatama said unless the situation improves, their tillage hectarage will be lower when compared to previous years.
“Around 2004 we had more than 120 tractors and we could till about 700 hectares because the equipment was still intact, but this season it has decreased to only 22 hectares.”