The District Development Fund has lost approximately 90 percent of its tractor units affecting its vital tillage services to resettled farmers.
The DDF’s mandate includes providing and maintaining sustainable rural development infrastructure, resettlement tillage, transportation and other services to uplift the living standards of the rural people.
However, most of its services including the roads engineering development division, rural water department and irrigation development, among others have suffered from gradual decimation of equipment over the years.
In his Ministerial Statement on the Capacitation of the DDF, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Jorum Gumbo revealed that from a peak of 800 tractor units, the number of serviceable units had decreased to 100 countrywide.
“The DDF plays a critical role in the provision of tillage services to resettled farmers including ploughing, disking, planting and fertilizer spreading.
“However, there has been a gradual decrease in the number of tillage tractors and related equipment due to extensive use and the limited mantainence budget,” he said.
Minister Gumbo said in addition to the rehabilitation of existing equipment, DDF would also require new equipment including 100 tractors, 40 ploughs, 40 planters, 60 Rome-discs and 20 vicon spreaders.
The DDF ploughed only 2 000 hectares throughout the country under the food and security cluster last season.
“As part of the recapitalisation process, the institution will be a beneficiary of tractors and other appropriate implements being sourced from Belarus and Brazil, once the ongoing negotiations are finalised,” he said.
Under the roads engineering development division, the DDF is responsible for the construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of rural roads, bridges and airstrips.
“As a catalyst for economic development, the DDF roads infrastructure activities started in 1981 when the DDF began handling the rural road development agenda in the face of the then incapacitated local authorities in communal resettlement and small scale commercial farming areas.
“It therefore harmonised the construction and maintenance standards of rural feeder roads to a technically complete status, that is, with the attendant structures and drainage systems.
“Under the rural roads programme carried out between 1985 and 2000, DDF constructed a total network of 25 000 km in the communal resettlement and small scale commercial farming areas.”
The DDF added a further 7 000km after the land reform programme bringing the total to 32 000 km.
“These achievements were possible because at its peak, DDF had four road constructions units per province with one unit consisting of the following machinery; one dozer, two motorised graders, one front end loader, four tipper trucks, one flat-bed truck, one water bowser, one compactor, one low bed truck and one motorised fuel bowser.
“The main purpose of the provincial road unit is the construction of new roads and periodic road rehabilitation. It is a matter for regret that at the moment the inventory of equipment in possession of all the provincial road units is hardly enough to constitute one unit per province.”
The DDF had road maintenance units which operated from 194 base camps with critical equipment across Zimbabwe.
However, Minister Gumbo said about 25 – 30 percent was working while the rest is at various stages of disrepair with no guarantee for spares availability.
Minister Gumbo said the resources allocated to DDF for road construction and routine maintenance is disproportionate to the road network that falls under the jurisdiction of the institution.
“The DDF is in charge of 60 percent of the national rural feeder roads inclusive of the newly opened resettlement areas which came with the land reform.”
The water division within DDF has been relying on 10 drilling rigs for use countrywide.
In 1980, the water division had 32 rigs, 4 per province and commanding 50 000 water points.
“Under the Rural Wash Programme, DDF was able to reach out to more than 4, 5 million people which improved access to safe water, sanitation and hygienic practices.
“In this regard, the programme enabled DDF to drill 1 634 boreholes, rehabilitate 25 526 boreholes, rehabilitate 73 piped water schemes and constructed 198 900 household latrines.”
Minister Gumbo said the DDF is also implementing irrigation development projects under Command Irrigation where some projects have been completed while some are at various stages of completion.
“The fund had a target to rehabilitate 18 small holder irrigation schemes in eight provinces following disbursements of funds from Treasury,” he said.
The DDF also runs the aircraft services with Minister Gumbo revealing that the section is a self-contained and strategic business unit within DDF which generates additional revenue to supplement Government maintenance grants.