Feature: Chinese machinery supplier seeks to modernize Zimbabwe's agriculture sector
A Chinese manufacturer and distributor of advanced agriculture machinery and technologies is helping advance Zimbabwe's agriculture sector by introducing smart technologies to increase the country's agricultural productivity.
Debont Corp., one of the companies that exhibited at this year's edition of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show which ran from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, is aiming to bridge Zimbabwe's technology gap in the agriculture sector through technical skills transfer.
The agriculture machinery and solutions supplier showcased its latest collection of smart machinery such as irrigation equipment, no-tillage precision planters, center pivots, automotive pilot systems among other equipment.
Li Weiwei, Africa Regional manager for Debont and Managing Director of China-Aid Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center (CATDC) in Zimbabwe, said while Zimbabwe has made notable strides in the agriculture sector over the years, there is still a need to speed up the adoption of new technologies.
"That's why we are here, and we brought the machinery, and all will be tested if they are suitable for the local market requirements, and we would also want to try our best efforts to bring more high level, high standards machinery to Zimbabwe," he told Xinhua.
Li said besides supplying high-tech machinery, Debont is engaged in educating local farmers on how they can increase productivity through new technologies.
"After the show immediately we will arrange some field days and we will try to teach and train local farmers who are willing to know these new things. Then on field day we will try to do the practice and show farmers what we are doing and see the performance of the machines," he said.
In addition, Li said agricultural modernization will boost labor productivity and increases agricultural surplus thereby increasing incomes and improving nutrition.
Debont is a system integrator specializing in modern agricultural production processes, including providing integrated solutions in agricultural engineering, supplying agricultural equipment, contracting of agricultural projects, and operating agricultural projects.
In Zimbabwe, Debont is currently running the CATDC located at Gwebi College of Agriculture near Harare.
CATDC was established in 2011 through the China-Aid program focusing on farmer training and technical skills transfer.
The center also functions as a base of agriculture high-yield technology demonstration, agriculture, machinery and irrigation technology training and promotion, and a platform of international cooperation on agriculture between Zimbabwe and China.
Over the past 10 years, CATDC has provided training courses to more than 3,000 Zimbabwean farmers.
The Zimbabwean government identifies the agriculture sector as the engine for economic growth and recognizes the need for large-scale investments in the sector through the adoption of smart technologies.
The growing population and changing climatic patterns have increased the necessity of smart technologies and modern machinery to maximize agricultural productivity.
In this regard, China has been assisting Zimbabwe to improve the production of crops such as tobacco by imparting valuable knowledge and technology transfer.
Agriculture forms the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, with the sector contributing approximately 17 percent to the country's economy.
In addition, agricultural activities provide employment and income for 60 to 70 percent of the population, supply about 60 percent of the raw materials required by the manufacturing sector, and contribute approximately 40 percent of total export earnings, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Measures adopted by the government to increase crop output have started to bear fruit, as the country is for the first time in nearly two decades expecting to be corn and wheat sufficient, slashing the import bill significantly.
Experts say Zimbabwe can further consolidate its strength in agriculture by learning from China in the field of agricultural science and technology. Enditem