Article by: Julie Havercroft
Zimbabwe’s only crop spraying service, Agricair, has soared through African skies for over fifty years. The company, at its peak, was the second largest crop spraying service in the world, and flew into neighbouring African countries and even as far afield as Sudan for work. It had bases countrywide, with aeroplanes stationed at those bases, to meet the full scope of their customer demand. This is just a little, but very interesting snippet of Zimbabwe’s agricultural history and should not be forgotten. With the agricultural boom in the 1970s and 1980s, Agricair sprayed herbicide, top dressing and fungicide into cotton, wheat, tobacco and other row crops. Quelea control and seeding were also part of their services offered. Vast hectarages of sugarcane in the Lowveld, and tea plantations in Chipinge were sprayed. And during the 1980s, tsetse fly control in the Zambezi valley was part of the
company’s portfolio of services.
Now, based at Charles Prince Airport, just outside Harare, Agricair is still operating, with two Cessna 188s and a 3rd Piston Thrush aircraft, operational soon.
Douglas Leathes is the chief pilot and does most of the company’s flying. Business in Zimbabwe in recent times has not been without its challenges and high operating costs. Leathes says more and more commercial farmers are choosing to spray chemicals through their centre pivot irrigation systems and although this is cost effective in cutting out a service charge, it may not be as
effective as aerial spraying. Unfortunately many farm airstrips fell into disrepair or totally disappeared over the past years and this had the knock-on effect of planes having to fly longer distances to refill tanks during spraying ops, meaning rising costs. However this is easily overcome by farmers building make shift airfields under Agricair’s guidance. With this said, it still proves a very cost effect, time efficient means of spraying or applying fertilizer in all areas of Zimbabwe.
Agricair has also diversified into other areas of work including backup for anti-poaching operations, in the Zambezi valley.
Agricair can be found at Site 24 Charles Prince Airport, Mount
Hampden, Harare. Or contact them on email: email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 0772 480 863.