Some of the tractors which Malawi Government bought using the Line of Credit Cooperation from Exim Bank of India are yet to be dispatched to district agricultural offices to ease the burden farmers face using hoes.
recently spotted about 10 tractors fitted with accessories such as ploughs, ridgers, harrowers and maize shellers at Lunzu Rural Development Programme (RDP) which falls under the Blantyre Agricultural Development Division (ADD) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
In December 2011, the Indian Government handed over 177 tractors and 144 maize shellers to Malawi as a loan valued at $55 million which was duly approved by Parliament. The loan will be repaid in 40 years.
Principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Jeffrey Luhanga, claimed all districts received tractors which will be hired by farmers.
But when told this week that some of the tractors are still lying idle at Lunzu RDP, Luhanga said mechanisation is new in the country as such uptake would be slow.
Blantyre ADD programme manager Nelson Mataka said his division received eight tractors with their accessories, but said they were not dispatched to district councils because of shortage of human resource.
He urged farmers to utilise the tractors, saying hiring them for ploughing, harrowing and ridging is relatively cheaper when compared with the intensity of using a hoe. He could not immediately say how much it would cost to hire a tractor.
But a January 2012 Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security statement indicated that ploughing one hectare would cost K25 000, harrowing K14 500, ridging K18 500 (about $46.25) and K5 500 (about $13.75) for planting.
The Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) bemoaned the cost of hiring, observing that a majority of the farmers cannot afford it.
Former minister of Agriculture and Food Security Professor Peter Mwanza, speaking when he received the tractors from the government of India, said the equipment will revolutionise agriculture sector in the country.