30 August 2017

Zimbabwe: China Pledges Support for Food Production

Photo: The Financial Gazette
(File photo).

China will continue supporting Zimbabwe's agrarian revolution to help increase both food production and food self-sufficiency, Beijing's envoy to Harare Mr Huang Ping has said. Speaking during the official commissioning of Shauke Weir Dam in Zvishavane yesterday, Ambassador Huang said Command Agriculture programmes had engendered new opportunities for Zimbabwe-China agricultural cooperation.

The commissioned dam, with a holding capacity of 39 000 cubic metres, was built under the Chinese Food Assistance for Assets (FFA), through the World Food Programme.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Zimbabwe are the implementing partners.

"In 2016, China provided $1 million for lean season assistance and productive asset creation, for which we are holding the handover ceremony now," said Ambassador Huang.

"In this programme, $534 000 is being spent in productive asset creation projects, with an expected 1 800 households in Zvishavane being supported through cash transfers.

"WFP has provided twinning funds to support the construction of assets and partner costs. The remaining went to support beneficiaries of the 2016-17 Lean Season Assistance programme through in-kind assistance."

The lean season is usually the period covering December and March where people often turn to food aid.

Ambassador Huang said China recently donated $5 million through WFP, which will be spent in 2017-2018 lean season on assistance and support to refugees, benefiting approximately 107 000 people.

He said in boosting agriculture production in the country, China had also provided machinery and fertilizers in the form of governmental aid and concessional loans, worth an estimated $100 million.

The Shauke Weir Dam will support a 1,3 hectare horticulture garden and orchard, as well as water for livestock, while there are also plans to start a fish project.

In a speech read on his behalf by Mr Cleto Diwa, a director in his ministry, Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Jason Machaya paid tribute to the long-standing relationship with China and the support which is being given to Zimbabwe.

"You have been an all-weather friend that we have relied on time and time again," he said. "It is a true testimony of the commitment of the People's Republic of China to uplift the lives of Zimbabwe."

WFP country representative Mr Eddie Rowe said in the face of erratic climate and unreliable yields, communities can now depend on Shauke Weir Community Garden and Orchard.

ADRA Zimbabwe country director Mrs Judith Musvosvi said the main objective of the FFA project was to ensure food security, income security, livelihood opportunities, as well as building communities' resilience to shocks.

She said on completion, Shauke Weir Dam would see communities growing vegetables, fruits and other crops expected to improve their diet and nutrition.

The dam will be completed by November this year.

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