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French connection for Zim agric

FRENCH agro-businesses with interests straddling irrigation, mechanisation, horticulture and cattle, are planning to relaunch on the local market after a 10-year absence.

Zimbabwe will soon host a business delegation from the European country.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made recently visited Paris, France where he signed a memorandum of understanding covering many agricultural sub-sectors with French Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Spatial Planning Minister Mr Stephane Le Foll.

Already, French agro-businesses — such as Massey Ferguson, renowned for producing tractors; and Challenger Equipment, famed for manufacturing combine harvesters — have a market in Zimbabwe.

Dr Made told The Sunday Mail Business that the French delegation was expected in the next two months.

“We are very happy to announce that very soon we will be hosting the French agro-based delegation which is interested in a number of agricultural business which include irrigation, mechanisation, cattle breeding and veterinary services.

“But the driving thrust will be irrigation development and machinery. After a series of meetings with French Agriculture Minister (Foll), we agreed that we will be focusing more on farming machinery such as tractors, centre pivots and combine harvesters as we move to cover areas left out on the Brazilian irrigation equipment scheme.

“We have also asked them to help us in dam constructions like they did on the Tokwe-Mukosi dam as they have the expertise and resources to explore that area,” said Dr Made.

Zimbabwe is determined to switch from predominantly rain-fed agriculture to mechanised and irrigated farming to enhance productivity.

Since many local feasibility studies on dam construction and irrigation were carried out by French companies, policymakers hope to also leverage on

their expertise to promote development.

Government is also encouraging French business to help develop the beef industry.

“French are the leaders in livestock management and veterinary services, so we need to incorporate them so that they will help us in improving our beef production. They have got Limousine breed, which is one of the best beef breeds in the world, and we want to take that opportunity to have it.

“We will also get over seven vegetable varieties from the French, which are GMO-free and we would want to maintain that. The French are going organic, so we are,” Dr Made said.

There are presently over 30 French companies operating in Zimbabwe, which include Total and Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Lafarge Cement.

Yeast manufacturer, Lesaffre, is the latest French company to be established in the country, while companies like Proparco and Bureau Veritas are expected to expand their Zimbabwe operations this year.

Proparco (Company of Promotion and Participation for Economic Co-operation) is a financial development institution that specialises in private sector financing. It has invested over US$60 million in local financial institutions.

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