Zimbabwe, Belarus cement agric ties

Bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Belarus have expanded with the signing of two memorandums of understanding yesterday, as the two nations cemented cooperation in the agricultural sector at the end of a three-day visit by a delegation from the east European country led by that country’s Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Leonid Zayats.

The agreements were on cooperation in dairy, poultry and meat sectors.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka emphasised the importance of the economic relations between the two countries.

Trade should immediately start in the area of dairy products and meat products, he said.

“This is followed by various exchange programmers and also capacity development in Zimbabwe,” said Dr Masuka. “We must now go beyond the signing of the MOUs so that our President can find that in the next six months we have made tangible practical progress on all the MOUs you have signed.

“Our two Presidents did exchange visits and saw the needs of Belarus and the needs of Zimbabwe. When we undertook the historic land reform, the missing element was capacitation of farmers. That is why the mechanisation programme took center stage.”

Zimbabwe has been under sanctions from western countries for the past 23 years, while Belarus has been under sanctions for the past 30 years from the same quarters.

Under the Belarus facility, Zimbabwe received over 2 000 tractors and is expecting another 3 500 tractors.

The country also received over 60 combine harvesters and is expecting another consignment.

This has increased the mechanisation capacity of Zimbabwe to 13 000 tractors from 7 500 and the results are clear to see with Zimbabwe expanding first to food security and then into surplus.

About 30 percent tillage in Zimbabwe comes from support from Belarus, 35 percent of combine harvesters are from Belarus and there is a smooth transition from summer to winter farming.

Mr. Zayats said there was a huge potential for agriculture in Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe is doing well in agriculture,” he said. “You are hardworking people. You have everything to produce what you like. We have found some specific things which you need. We will not let you down. We will fulfil the will of our Presidents. We are there to support you.”

Belarus Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Mr. Shagoiko Vadim was excited by Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA)s work towards improving food security and sharing expertise and work closely together will enable the country to move forward

“We are impressed by the achievements which you have shown us,” he said. “With our expertise, we can develop your country and show positive results. The signing of the MoUs today shows some good steps and positive results. “We believe our cooperation will be fruitful. Impression of good harvest and good plants as a result of your dairy farms. A lot has been done in dairy processing, food production. With the close cooperation between our nations, we achieve good results.

Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos applauded the work done by ARDA in transforming the agricultural sector but more support is needed to partner the parastatal to ensure a vibrant industry.

“We look for strategic partners for ARDA,” he said. “Belarus offers supreme genetics and fast technology; now we tap the opportunity to work with you. We also invite you to look at ARDA and see where else can we cooperate in ARDA. Currently we have a lot of Belarusian equipment which is also critical in the sector.”

ARDA chief executive officer Mr. Tinotenda Mhiko said it was critical for them to engage the Belarusian Government so that they worked to expand their dairy value chain and be able to work on critical areas which needed support.

“The main area of production is irrigation schemes, cereals, oil seeds, cotton, maize, sunflower among others,” he said. “Still under rural development we have dairy development where we have 23 milk collection centers. These support over 300 000 households and produce over three million liters, hence we are excited to work with the Belarusian Government to expand our dairy value chain.

“There is also value addition and agro-processing in rural development. These are the critical areas which we are working on. So we are decentralising micro processing plants at district levels and our objective is to drive rural industrialisation.”

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