Writes Elvis Dumba
Raffingora – The government’s “Look East Policy” has continued to bear more fruits for the country in various spheres of the economy.
The “Look East policy” success continues to be evident following the recent commissioning of a 1.14 MW Photovoltaic Power Generation Plant at Sisi Farm near Raffingora through a Zimbabwe-China partnership.
The solar-powered project is expected to be used primarily for irrigating wheat, tobacco and maize at the farm under joint cooperation between Zim-China Wanjin Agriculture Development (Pvt) Limited company, an initiative between Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs with Anhui Provincial State Farms Group of The People’s Republic of China.
Officially commissioning the plant, Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Permanent Secretary, Aaron Nhepera, said the project is proof of the success of the country’s look east policy which will go a long way in increasing foreign direct investment in the country.
“This project is ample testimony of the strong bilateral relations that exist between our two countries. Dating back to the time of the liberation struggle, China was with us as we fought to dislodge the barbaric colonial system.
“All of us have a duty to emulate Zim-China Wanjin Agricultural Development (PVT) Ltd in complementing the government’s efforts to provide enough electricity for the nation which is needed in our modernisation and industrialization drive as we seek to realize the national vision of an empowered and prosperous upper-middle income society by 2030 through implementation of the national development strategy,” he said.
Permanent Secretary Nhepera said the coming into being of the company was in direct response to the “Look East Policy” that was enunciated by the government during the era of the late President Robert Mugabe who specifically mandated the Ministry of Defence through a 2005 Cabinet decision to spearhead joint ventures in the agriculture sector in an effort to exterminate hunger occasioned by recurrent droughts.
In an interview, Zim-China Wanjin Company General Manager, Lyu Qingqian, said they are happy with the establishment of the solar power generation plant as it will increase efficiency for agricultural activities
“We are no longer worried about power challenges and this will definitely help increase production,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa- Chikoka, said they were proud as a province to have such projects.
“We are proud to have such projects in Mashonaland West Province that are in line with President Emerson Mnangagwa’s for ensuring that no person or place is left behind with this project adding to the province to be wheat self-sufficient as the company can easily irrigate their wheat fields using solar”. She said
Zvimba North Constituency Legislator and Local Government Deputy Minister Marian Chombo said her constituency which is the bread basket of Mashonaland West will grow further in agriculture production.
“We are thankful to the government and President Emerson Mnangagwa for according to us relevant projects such as this commissioned Photovoltaic Solar Power Generation Plant that will help us to increase our agriculture production,” she said.
Zim-China Wanjin Company came into being after various stakeholder engagements involving various ministries such as the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, the Ministry of Lands, the Ministry of Higher Education and Anhui Provincial State Farms Group Company of China.
A bilateral Economic Cooperation was signed with China’s Bureau of Commerce in April 2010 with a Joint Venture Agreement in Agriculture Cooperation signed between the Ministry of Defence and Anhui Provincial State Farms Group in August 2010 when the current Zimbabwe President, Emerson Mnangagwa was the Minister of Defence. Another joint venture in agriculture was signed on 15 December 2010.
The company currently operates agriculture production ventures on various farms that include Hunyani Farm in Chinhoyi, Krystal Lucille Farm in Concession and Sisi Farm near Raffingora.
Meanwhile, the company is set to establish a Zim-China International Potato Center where research for virus-free potato seed production is expected to be done through research.