The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT has entered an exclusive memorandum of understanding on agriculture with China Railway No3 Engineering Group (CR3) and AGCO Corporation, which is expected to revolutionise the sector.
AGCO, a leading United States agricultural equipment manufacturer based in Georgia, is a top player in agriculture and generated revenues of US$7,41 billion in 2016.
Its partner in the project, CR3, is one of the biggest State-owned firms in China and one of the two biggest construction firms in the world.
The MoU is expected to guide a new thrust focused on training small and large-scale farmers on measures to improve yields.
Part of the plans involve an ambitious project to grow crops under irrigation on 100 000 hectares around Kudu Dam near Kadoma; boosting soya bean and lentil production for the Chinese and Indian markets; establishing model — or “future” — farms around Zimbabwe; and training farmers on seed, fertiliser and soil testing, machine handling and preventing post-harvest losses.
When implemented to full capacity, the investment could be worth $1 billion.
This comes as President Mnangagwa has declared that agriculture and FDI are central to economic turnaround.
AGCO Africa marketing director and general manager (Zambia Future Farm) Jason Burbidge, together with CR3 international agent and advisor Sir Richard Heygate, were in Harare recently to meet Agriculture Ministry officials.
Secretary for Agriculture Mr Ringson Chitsiko signed the MoU on Government’s behalf. Mr Peter Ganya, who facilitated the engagement, told The Sunday Mail Business last week that the MoU would see Zimbabwe starting model farming.
“We are starting off with an agriculture park which will be replicated across the country; we will have ‘future farm’, a centre of excellence in farming,” said Mr Ganya.
Model farming seeks to promote research and demonstrate the advancements in farming techniques and efficiency at the farm level.
Under the model, the investor and Government will grow maize and export crops like soya beans and lentils.
AGCO has already started a “future farm” in Zambia and other countries, with a view to developing a sustainable food production system capable of boosting yields by efficiently use of resources.
Soya beans have a ready market in China while lentils are also consumed in large quantities in India.
CR3 will take advantage of its knowledge of the Chinese and Indian markets to push Zimbabwean produce and generate foreign currency. Mr Ganya added: “Training will be provided to both large and small-scale farmers. We will do soil testing, seed testing, fertiliser testing, machine handling and post-harvest produce handling.
“In other words, we want to capacitate farmers, that is why we brought AGCO into the country.”
CASE IH, a local agriculture equipment firm, will partner them in a programme to grow crops on 100 000 hectares around Kudu Dam near Kadoma.
“We will also focus on irrigation infrastructure development and once the Kudu Dam project is up and running, we start irrigation. We want to support farmers but through the Zimbabwe Government. If we are to quantify the investment, we are looking at $1 billion,” said Mr Ganya.
Apart from agriculture, CR3 is also targeting the Harare-Chitungwiza railway line and introducing metro trains; the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway; Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway; Harare-Bindura highway and finishing off the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport road.
CR3 is ranked among the Fortune Global 500 and is listed on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.