Minister Shiri meets with China Lesso Group officials

By Staff Reporter
LEADING Chinese Industrial Equipment Firm, China Lesso Group who are targeting strategic partnerships in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector have identified key areas of cooperation that will assist to bolster the performance of the sector and enhance the country’s food security.
The officials from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company who are in the country to explore investment opportunities have shown interests in the country’s agricultural sector in a bid to expand its business portfolio into Zimbabwe.
Over the last four days, the delegation has assessed various farms across the country to identify areas of mutual cooperation.
The overall objective is for the firm to extend the latest technologies particularly on irrigation that will assist to mitigate the current pressures on food security presented by climate change.
In a meeting convened between the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Perrance Shiri and the visiting delegation in Harare this Friday, various solutions which the country will utilise to bolster its smart agriculture thrust were outlined.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Minister Shiri said Lesso Group offered solutions that would change the face of agriculture once implemented.
“The company is offering us some smart solutions to our agriculture and it’s introducing to us some irrigation model that uses the latest technologies,” said Minister Shiri.
“They have taken note of the challenges we are facing in respect of power supply and they are proposing that we use solar power for various scales from household irrigation needs up to commercial agriculture. They are also proposing that we use some water-saving models of irrigation. You can see that with the drought we had last year and the drought we are experiencing now, the water levels have depleted, so there is need to conserve water hence the technology they are suggesting will be quite handy.”
Minister Shiri said the modalities of any deal would be made public once they agreed on a number of issues.
“Once we finalise the negotiations and the investment involved, we will be able to change the face of agriculture in the country.
“It’s a process (the negotiations). You have to go through all the due diligences and agree on the financing model and the extent of the hectarage covered under the agreed scheme. So it’s still work in progress,” he said.
The minister said climate change had negatively affected the country’s agriculture with farmers risking losses if the current dry spell persisted.
“We are faced with a challenge of climate change and this season we are faced with the prospect of a severe drought, but we hope the situation will improve. Our farmers risk losing their crops, especially those without irrigation. However, those with irrigation facilities also face a challenge of availability of electricity because of the low water levels at Kariba Dam that have affected electricity generation.
“I hope farmers took heed of my call to dedicate some of their land to the growing of traditional grains which can do better in these dry conditions,” he said.
The Chinese delegation toured eight farms in Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland South to assess the irrigation technologies being used by local farmers. They also toured President Mnangagwa’s Pricabe Farm in Sherwood on the outskirts of Kwekwe.