Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
The US$66 million agricultural equipment deal entered between Zimbabwe and Belarus last week is expected to further boost agricultural productivity, ensuring national food security and restoring Harare as the breadbasket of the region, analysts have said.
President Mnangagwa and his Belarus counterpart, Aleksandr Lukashenko, commissioned 1 635 tractors, 16 combine harvesters and other farming equipment including boom sprayers with a combined value of US$66 million last Tuesday at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Harare.
The agricultural equipment is part of the country’s Phase 2 of the Belarus Mechanisation Facility.
Phase One saw the delivery of 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters and five low-bed trucks to farmers.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said the equipment would boost the key economic sector.
“Given our situation in relation to sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe (by the West), a gesture of this nature is very critical for our economic well being.
“The equipment procured under the Zimbabwe/Belarus agreement is of good quality and can sustain our agricultural transformation agenda,” said Mr Zakariya.
Pan-African Chamber of Commerce board member Dr Langton Mabhanga said the continued coming of new agricultural equipment from Belarus “represents the sustained agitation of the Second Republic to grow one of the commanding heights of the national economy – agriculture”.
“The President is evidently and relentlessly focused on growing the country’s agricultural productivity by a disruptive multiplication factor. The agric-equipment to agricultural productivity is what both weaponry and game theory are, to a warfare.
“I reckon that the high-level food security strategy in the President’s quiver is comprehensive. His design approach to national food security and Sustainable Development Goals Goal No. 2, which is ‘Zero Hunger’ has no room for opportunistic production. As a practitioner of organisational strategy, this exemplifies dynamic capabilities, pragmatism and people-centric leadership.
“Imagine had the President not foreseen the ramifications of the Ukraine-Russia conflict’s threat to global food security? Engineering of such interventions is what prompted the realisation of historic and spectacular economic miracles such as what China experienced under President Deng Xiaoping, South Korea under President General Parker and Singapore under President Lee Kuan Yew.”
Dr Mabhanga said through delivery of the Belarus agricultural equipment, there would be increased food production, resulting in more foreign currency being deployed towards other pressing priorities such as health, infrastructure and energy.
Economist Mr Persistence Gwanyanya said there was “urgent need to mechanise agriculture” as the country seeks to revamp the agriculture sector.
“Mechanisation is key to increasing yield levels in the agriculture sector, which are currently low by global standards.
“Increasing yield will boost agriculture production, which will in turn, increase the supply of raw materials to the manufacturing sector. Traditionally, the agriculture sector has been supporting the manufacturing sector with 60 percent of its raw material requirements.
“So, whilst key in boosting the agriculture sector’s productivity and production, the support with agriculture equipment by Belarus will ultimately support the country’s re-industrialisation imperative,” said Mr Gwanyanya.
President Lukashenko said the United States’ appetite to impose sanctions on other countries had gifted his country an opportunity to work with Zimbabwe, which has been under economic sanctions from Washington and other Western countries and blocs for over two decades.
“I would like to thank the United States and the entire Western world for the sanctions. Otherwise, these would not be Belarusian tractors on this huge field today, but US and German ones,” said President Lukashenko, who was in a sub-Saharan country for the first time.
“The history of the Zimbabwean people, their past was not easy. The President asked us for help in feeding the people, reviving the agricultural sector.
“And I promised to help. Agriculture (output), and about 1 000 tractors that we see here today, are just the first trial step.
“Please remember; we are separated by thousands of kilometres, but we are always ready to help you and to accept your help.”
President Lukashenko said Belarus was ready to assist Zimbabwe “anytime, anywhere, in solving the most complex problems and tasks”.
“I would like to emphasise that by coming to Africa, we bring peace, science and technology,” he said.
On his part, President Mnangagwa said he, and his counterpart do not believe in talking but delivering tangible products and results.
“President Lukashenko and I don’t not believe in long speeches; it is for diplomats. We believe in delivering and what we deliver can be seen, touched, counted.
“So today I have my brother here, we first met in 2015 and began a journey of cooperation,” said President Mnangagwa.
To prove that the two leaders believe in delivering, the Belarusian leader had earlier said: “If you don’t believe (these are tractors), you can come closer and touch them.”
President Mnangagwa said both Harare and Minsk were under Western sanctions, hence their cooperation in a practical way.
“We have a vision and a friend who shares it. And we achieved this with the support of my brother, Aleksandr Lukashenko,” said President Mnangagwa.
Belarus is among the world’s scientifically and technologically advanced nations. Over the years, it has preserved and significantly strengthened its scientific potential.
Belarus is one of the top global manufacturers of agricultural equipment. It is believed that for every 10 tractors in the world today, one of them was made in Belarus.
Experts say Belarus doesn’t just produce big numbers of tractors; it also produces big tractors.
The Eastern European country is also a top producer of crops, with primary food crops produced there being barley, corn, potatoes, sugar beets, and wheat.
Meat products include beef, veal, chicken, lamb, and pork. Agriculture contributed 6 percent to Belarus’ GDP in 2020. As of January 2021, over 266 000 people were employed in the sector.
Belarus’ main trading partner is the Russian Federation.
Presently, Belarus exports its products to over 100 countries including all the Commonwealth of Independent States, European Union countries, Asia, Africa, Middle East, South America, and North America.
In 2020, Belarus got access to new markets in Morocco, Somalia, Djibouti, Croatia, South Sudan, Cyprus, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay, Madagascar, Saint Lucia.