ORDERS FOR new tractors do not come much bigger than this – the Government of Zimbabwe has placed a contract for 5000 units with the international sales division of Renault Agriculture, the French manufacturing operation majority owned by Claas.
The machines will be built by International Tractors, an joint venture with Indian outfit Sonalika Group, in which Renault Agriculture has a 20% stake.
According to local press reports, Zimbabwe’s agriculture and rural development minister believes the tractors will help boost agricultural output by improving mechanisation, a factor he says is critical to the country’s land reform programme, which involves the redistribution of farmland to the indigenous population.
Zimbabwe will need at least 35,000 tractors over the next 10 years to satisfy the demand for farm machinery as a result of the reforms, says the Harare-based Herald newspaper.
The District Development Fund, a government agency charged with providing contract cultivation and crop establishment services, points out that Zimbabwe’s stock of serviceable tractors is dwindling due to worn parts and breakdowns.
The deal with Renault Agriculture and its Indian partner places 2000 tractors on immediate order with the remaining machines due to be delivered over an undisclosed period.
The French company bought its stake in ITL four years ago, providing technical assistance that has improved the components and production processes used to assemble Sonalika tractors.
Apart from supplying the domestic market, these machines provide a source of relatively low-spec, low-cost 25-60hp tractors for export.