Monday, December 23, 2019

First Lady’s China Visit Bears Fruit
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and visiting Chinese Lesso Group officials being entertained by a traditional dance group on arrival at Meikles Hotel in Harare yesterday

Tendai Rupapa
Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

The stage is now set for Zimbabwe to adopt smart agriculture technology and boost food production following the arrival of a high-powered delegation from a Chinese multinational firm which intends to set up massive irrigation technology here at the invitation of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.

This comes barely a month after Amai Mnangagwa’s visit to China where various companies expressed willingness to invest in the country.

China Lesso Group, a Hong Kong stock exchange listed firm, deals in agriculture equipment, home equipment and PVC products.

They are targeting strategic partnerships with Zimbabwe in the agriculture sector.

The firm’s representatives arrived in the country yesterday and were welcomed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by the First Lady and officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement.

The delegation included Mr Tang Hai Bo the firm’s secretary-general and his deputy Chen Bai Yi, Giang Bo Fu vice general manager and Jason Liu the overseas department sales manager.

Also part of the delegation are Mr Liang Jianxiong the director institution of cage and telecommunications pipeline, the sales manager Liu Jiu Fong and China Brand representative Liu Jia Huan.

The follow up visit by the Lesso Group comes just three weeks after Amai Mnangagwa made presentations about investment opportunities in Zimbabwe to several Chinese companies including China Lesso during her invitation to China by ChinaBrand International Commercial through her Angel of Hope Foundation.

The First Lady took the delegation to her office at Zimbabwe House where she officially handed them over to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement for further engagements saying as a mother and a citizen, she had played her part.

The delegation is expected to meet President Mnangagwa tomorrow at his Kwekwe farm. The delegation is also expected to tour several other farms across the country to have an appreciation of the agriculture sector.

Amai Mnangagwa said the visit by China Lesso Group showed their commitment towards boosting the country’s agricultural sector and ensure food security.

The First Lady also urged the Ministry of Lands to utilise the opportunity adding that agriculture is the backbone of any nation’s economy.

“I am in shock as it is less than a month since my return from China and Lesso Group has already made a follow-up visit.

“It is a leading agriculture firm in China and their visit shows their commitment, love for Zimbabwe and unity between the two countries. Their visit is also important to us as a nation,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa said according to the Ministry’s programme, the delegation will visit farms in different provinces.

“Since it is the number one company in China in terms of agriculture, they are going to visit most of the farms across the country. They will pick the problems we are currently facing as a country in the agriculture sector and see how best they can fuse in their advanced agricultural technology.

“I hope the Ministry of Agriculture will utilise this visit to revamp our technology because the technology we saw at China Lesso is way advanced. Zimbabwe is open for business and as a citizen, I would love to see my country grow,” the First Lady said.

Head of the delegation Mr Tang Hai Bo said they were in the country in response to the First Lady’s call to invest in Zimbabwe and explore further opportunities.

“We hope to spread our advanced agriculture technology in Zimbabwe to improve its food security.

“We have been doing a lot of research on how to counter climate change-induced drought which many countries are facing and the knowledge we have will also help Zimbabwe.

“We want to see Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector improving,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Lands Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi said the follow-up visit by the Chinese would unlock massive benefits for the nation.

“This is a dream come true because what we saw as an eye-opener in China has now come to materialise,” she said.

“We are grateful that they have come to Zimbabwe and they have come at the right time. We are in the summer season and we have crops which are showing moisture stress. We have water in our dams, but the water is not enough. Also the irrigation systems we use in Zimbabwe like drip or sprinkler are exposed to evaporation.

“Lesso Group has advanced technology  like micro irrigation which drops water directly onto the plant root thereby reducing loss of water through evaporation.

Mrs Magwenzi said Zimbabwe is not receiving enough rains to sustain irrigation, hence the need for advanced technology.

“We are going with them around the country so that they see the set-up we have. They will also have an opportunity to present their set-up and I am convinced that we will be a different Zimbabwe.”

ChinaBrand, which is owned by Mrs Juliana Elhawary, invited the First Lady to China following her empowerment work through her charity arm for the transformation of Zimbabwe.

She went with a delegation and had meetings with several Chinese firms which expressed interest to invest in Zimbabwe.

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