BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
Farmers from around the country have paid tribute to EcoFarmer Vaya Tractor, saying the service had come in handy in helping with mechanised equipment, and assisting them to meet delivery deadlines, especially for contract farmers.
Vaya Tractor – which officially launched its services to the nation earlier this month at a ceremony attended by Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister Perence Shiri, at ART Farm north of Harare – started work several months ago, partnering with different farmers to harvest last year’s crop and to prepare the land for this year’s crop.
In Manicaland Province, Leonard Bwanali, an out-grower farmer for the Zadzamatura-Dekalb Maize Seed variety in the Middle Sabi district, hailed the speed and professionalism demonstrated when Vaya Tractor was deployed to work on 100 hactares of the maize seed crop.
“We received an eight-row planter from Vaya Tractor and it was able to complete the job in very good time.
“As farmers, I can say Vaya Tractor was a real problem-solver for us,” Bwanali said, conveying sentiments that were confirmed by Talent Chihuri, Zadzamatura’s Seed Inspector and Dennis Simbe, marketing and agronomy officer with the organisation.
Bwanali said the Zadzamatura-Dekalb Middle Sabi Maize Seed project alone has a plant population of over 60 000 maize plants.
In Mashonaland East Province, Lloyd Bvunzawabaya – the forestry manager for the Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco (ZLT), who co-ordinates the organization’s Block Forestry Project – also spoke of how Vaya Tractor was helping his organisation alleviate capacity challenges.
“We had been having serious capacity challenges, with the available tractors in the area not able to cope with our demand until Vaya Tractor came to the rescue,” Bvunzawabaya said.
Vaya Tractor did 200 hactores of ploughing and ripping at the ZLT forestry project.
The ZLT Block Forestry Project’s mandate is to establish gum plantations to enhance wood supplies for sustainable tobacco production.
Bvunzawabaya said this year alone, ZLT planned to do over 1 250 hactares of gum tree-planting in Macheke, east of Marondera, adding that he was looking to Vaya Tractor enable them to speed up their operations and meet their work deadlines.
In Mashonaland West, Vaya Tractor has made a great difference at Nungu Agri-Products on Kintyre Estates in Norton, where the farmer is currently doing over 60 hactares of potatoes on an out-grower programme with Cairns Foods and Hanawa Super Foods.
Nungu Agri Products MD Ronald Museka, said the Vaya Tractor had helped speed up their planting and also assisted with their harvesting.
“The EcoFarmer team came with Vaya Tractor just on time. We were in a bit of trouble and quite stretched as we were trying to expand our production to meet the demand from our contracting partners,” said Museka.
“We desperately needed an additional tractors as well as planting and harvesting equipment.
“Then Vaya Tractor came in to assist with planting, and also came back to help with our harvesting.”
Vaya Tractor has – among many farmers and organizations – also partnered with Tongaat Hullet Zimbabwe to plant over 300 hactares of maize in Triangle, Masvingo Province, and with the Sustainable Afforestation Association to plough and rip over 500 hactares of land in Karoi, Trelawney and Nyabira districts in Mashonaland West, as well as in Featherstone in Mashonaland East Province.
Speaking at the official launch of Vaya Tractor earlier, Lands and Agriculture revealed that the country had a deficit of 33 000 tractors, 10 000 planters and 500 combine harvesters.
He lauded Vaya Tractor for coming through to narrow that deficit, and called upon the private sector to step in to complement Government efforts to boost agricultural productivity in the country.
With 3 000 tractors already on the Vaya Tractor platform, the possibility of significantly reducing the national tractor deficit is no longer just a pipe dream because of the efficiencies and savings to be derived from the Vaya Tractor ‘shared economy’ model.
Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, the company that developed the Vaya Tractor platform, said last week through its CEO Eddie Chibi that it planned to plough one million hectares of land this year alone using Vaya Tractor, with a target to cover the whole country within the next three years.