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Zimbabwe, Russia in talks over agriculture

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ZIMBABWE and Russia are exploring ways of striking a partnership in the agricultural sector in a move that is expected to improve the performance of the sector.

VICTORIA MTOMBA
BUSINESS REPORTER

Speaking at a meeting held in Harare yesterday Agriculture and Mechanisation minister Joseph Made said he was hopeful that the Russians would partner with them in irrigation since it was a critical area.

Made said the government still needed time to look into what the Russians were offering so that they could help farmers access credit facilities.

“We can talk of strategic grain reserves against the land mass. We can talk of other things A2, A1 farmers and land reform exercise we cannot sit on the idle land. We hold more land than our population as a country. We will look at what has been offered to us. Based on Zimbabwe’s priorities and they also have their own priorities,” he said.

Russian deputy director in the department of external economic relations, Alexander Tolparov, said they cannot quantify the amount of money they will spend on Zimbabwe as they are still in discussions.

“It is complicated to define because from project to project you have to define priority areas. It is still premature to say we will do so much,” he said.
Head of delegation Igor Avakumov said the output of the agricultural sector in Russia has been increasing since 2000.

Avakumov said grain has significantly increased and in 2014 a harvest of 100 million tonnes of grain was harvested in Russia. The country recorded increases in meat and poultry production this year as well.

He said farmers in Russia cannot get access to land. Russia would like to have partnership with Zimbabwe on citrus fruits, and is ready to sell tractors and combine harvesters as well as assembling some of the equipment here in Zimbabwe and sell them to other countries on the continent.

The agricultural sector has been failing to attract credit from financiers due to the unresolved issue of land as it cannot be used as collateral by farmers.
The output for maize, tobacco, cotton, and others is expected to increase between 2014-15. The agricultural sector is expected to grow at 3,4% in 2015.

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