President hails private sector

The Sunday Mail

Chief Reporter

President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday applauded the private sector for stepping up to the plate through complementing Government efforts to modernise and mechanise agriculture.

This, he said, will lay the foundation for establishing an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

The Head of State and Government said this after attending a showcase of Russian-made heavy-duty agricultural machinery at Gwebi Agricultural College near Harare, as he gears for his five-nation visit to Europe.

The new political administration is presently engaging and re-engaging with the international community to unlock value from mutually beneficial diplomatic relations.

The heavy-duty tractors and combine harvesters that were exhibited yesterday are supplied by Addrotech Technology Development Zimbabwe, which is an accredited dealer of top Russian manufacturing firm, Rostselmash.

President Mnangagwa, who has premised the planned growth in agriculture on mechanisation and modernisation of the sector, is expected to meet officials from Rostselmash in Moscow.

He commended Addrotech for taking the initiative to support his vision.

“As a Government, we are extremely happy that our own people in the private sector are responding to our vision for this country to become a middle-income economy by 2030. This will be achieved if each sub-sector plays its part. Agriculture is a critical component of that vision. We must modernise and mechanise our agriculture. This is a vision that Government is articulating. However, I am so pleased and so happy that our own people are responding to the call,” he said.

“I have been talking to my Minister of Lands and Agriculture(Perrance Shiri) that with such assistance and response from the private sector, we must now look at the eight agricultural provinces that we have in Zimbabwe, look at each district . . . at how much land we have. In fact, he already has the statistics on the amount of arable land in all the provinces.

“He knows the figures. With all these facts, he will now be able to work out with these experts who will be able to say each province or district requires what number of units depending on the available arable land; so this is the way to go.”

President Mnangagwa said his vision, which is already bearing fruit, is to ensure that the country achieves food security.

“With such vision, nothing will stand in our way, this country shall be food self-sufficient. Never again shall we have food deficiency in Zimbabwe.”

Rostselmash’s equipment, he added, was tailor-made for extensive national projects.

He, however, implored the company to quote reasonable prices for its equipment.

“On the other hand, we as Government have accepted your coming on board; it is not an opportunity for profiteering,” he said.

In his remarks, Lands, Agriculture, Rural Resettlement, Water and Climate Minister Perrance Shiri said Addrotech managing director Mr David Tigere was one of the officials who will receive President Mnangagwa in Russia.

“The background is that Rostselmash is a company in Russia which manufactures agriculture equipment.

“The company awarded dealership licences to Addrotech Technology Development Company, which is owned by Mr Tigere.

“It was against that background that we at ministry saw it prudent to invite you to come and view Russian-manufactured equipment before your visit to the Russian Federation, given that you are likely to be shown similar equipment in Russia.

“We thought it was appropriate that you meet the Zimbabwean element, before you meet them in Russia.

“These giant monsters are not a fairy tale but a mere tiny glimpse of some of the equipment which, if invested in, can revolutionise Zimbabwe’s agriculture as we march towards 2030.”

Mr Tigere said the equipment from Rostselmach was more affordable relative to similar equipment from Western countries.

“These tractors are able to do up to 80 hectares a day.Our biggest problem as farmers is that when planting comes, there is a shortage of machinery and we use small 50-horse power tractors that are not going to do much for you. We decided to take this model of business and go to the farmer, to till for them and herbicide for them, and take our combine harvesters to the farmer to harvest. There is no need for the farmer to invest in tractors.

“These machines are also coming in at a very comfortable price. The price of our machines compared to similar machines from Western countries are half of that amount.

‘‘Where we would get combine harvesters at US$400 000 in the West, we are getting them at US$200 000 from Russia, yet they carry the same engines.”

His company was working with local universities that have acquired skills to service the equipment from Russia.

President Mnangagwa, who is set to leave the country tomorrow, is scheduled to visit Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and also attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Davos, Switzerland.

His meeting with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin is considered to be one of the major highlights of his diplomatic tour.

During his Russian tour, President Mnangagwa is expected to hold discussions with his counterpart on critical issues such as progress on the multi-million-dollar Great Dyke Platinum project.

President Mnangagwa last night addressed a press conference indicating that his trip to Russia “will focus predominantly on bilateral economic engagement”.

“My visit this time around will focus predominately on bilateral economic engagement, especially in areas of mining, technology, agriculture, energy and human capital development, among others,” he said.

His message at Davos, he added, was to reiterate that “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” and “Dialogue”.

He also said his delegation to Switzerland will also include business leaders, who are expected to interact with their counterparts and potential investors.

“Given that the World Economic Forum is a premier forum for the interaction of political and business leaders, Zimbabwe will take full advantage of this opportunity to market itself and seek gainful investment partnerships. For its recovery, Zimbabwe cannot go it alone,” said the President.

Zimbabwe, together with other countries in the Sadc region that are currently being affected by the El Nino phenomenon, has since initiated an appeal for assistance from the international community to help cover the shortfall expected in the agricultural sector.

In Belarus, the Head of State and Government is expected to further cement cordial relations that already exist between the two countries.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the Eastern European country continue to grow, with the latter having already supplied critical equipment for Hwange Colliery Company and Zimbabwe Mining Development Company (ZMDC).

Azerbaijan — a country which Zimbabwe started diplomatic relations only in October 2008 — is interested in cooperation in the areas of tax administration activities and will seek to tie an agreement on the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments.

Currently, trade between the two countries has been restricted to Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports, but Azerbaijan, which is currently scouting for global investment opportunities, has set its sights on investment opportunities in Zimbabwe’s mining, energy and tourism sectors.

Zimbabwe also intends to export citrus fruit, coffee, tea and tobacco to Kazakhstan, which is noted for its mineral wealth.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has already indicated that in Kazakhstan discussions will centre on industry (fertilizer and petrol chemicals), education and training.