CHIMOIO, MOZAMBIQUE, A total of 21,045 Mozambican farmers have benefitted from the use of tractors to plough their lands as well as other technological packages to improve agricultural production and productivity between October last year and July this year, says Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco.

This was a dramatic increase from the 2015/2016 agricultural year when only 1,624 farmers benefitted from such assistance, which is provided by the Agricultural Service Centres. The figures were revealed in Gondola, in the central province of Manica, by Pacheco, during the thirrd national meeting on agricultural mechanization.

Over the same period, Pacheco added, the mechanization programme met 82 per cent of its target. It was planned that the equipment hired out to farmers would be used on 61,560 hectares. The figure reached was 50,455 hectares.

However, the estimated production from this land was only half of what had initially been projected. Pacheco said the total output resulting from this mechanized agriculture was estimated at 156,222 tonnes, or only 50.4 per cent of the programmed figure of 312,109 tonnes. The main crops produced in these areas were maize, rice, beans, sesame and vegetables.

Nonetheless, Pacheco said, the mechanization programme had helped improve the incomes of small farmers, and had created 640 new direct jobs, and 3,575 indirect jobs.

The programme does not only directly benefit the producers. It is improving the lives of many Mozambicans. In this package of activities, 542 machine operators were trained, 58 managers, and 64 extensionists and mechanics. We are all gaining from this process where our target is to produce ever more food and guarantee the food and nutritional security of the country, he said.