Agriculture

Zim agric research unit in dire straits

TINASHE MAKICHI


The Department of Agricultural Research and Specialist Services has said half of its fixed laboratory equipment is antiquated and can no longer
cope with the increased volume of samples being received, a government official has said.


Lands Water and Agriculture Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro said apart from regular maintenance for efficiency, laboratory equipment has to be
replaced in accordance with acceptable levels of depreciation.


“While some maintenance or rehabilitation work has been done, such equipment is in dire need of replacement,” Karoro said at the handing over
of eight New Holland tractors and implements by Duly Motors to the Department of Agricultural Research and Specialist Services.


The commissioning of the tractors and equipment is part of ongoing efforts to increase research capacity alongside with the current thrust to have
a robust extension service as enunciated in the agriculture
recovery plan.


Karoro said that some old equipment being used by research institutions have become health hazards to operators, especially during the
analysis of agricultural chemicals for quality control purposes.


Movable laboratory equipment replacement has also been ad hoc, and highly dependent on the availability of funds as opposed to a standard
time-framed replacement strategy. Karoro said it was prudent to acquire equipment that measures to the current advances in science, so that new
tests that were not done before such as detecting presence and
level of genetic modification in crop could be carried.


On the handover of the tractors, Karoro noted that it is critical that infrastructure and field equipment such as irrigation, seed storage facilities as well as tractors, disc ploughs, planters among others are in
place and in good working conditions.


In terms of traction and tillage equipment, the previous practice was reliance on hiring from Central Mechanical and Engineering Department
which turned out to be expensive and unsustainable.


“Given the need to ensure that research trials are established on time in order to get full yield potential from the technologies, it is prudent that
the research stations should have their own fleet of tractors and equipment,” Karoro said.


The handed over tractors and equipment are destined for the following research institutes (Horticulture, Coffee, Cotton, Lowveld, Agronomy,
Crop Breeding, Save Valley and Panmure).


Duly Motors chief executive Cosmas Marimo said the company will continue complementing government efforts in reviving the agricultural sector.

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