A Chinese company has signed a deal with the Zimbabwean Government to set up eight satellite agricultural demonstration centres and experimental farms across the country in the next ten years for sharing of farming expertise and providing training to locals.
Debont Co Ltd, the Chinese agricultural company running the current four-year-old Gwebi Agricultural Demonstration Centre, signed the agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture in Harare on Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Debont will partner eight local agricultural colleges for the demonstration centre’s expansion.
The company will provide capital, machinery, lab apparatus and farming expertise for the satellite centres, Debont’s project manager Yu Xianzeng told Xinhua yesterday.
Mr Yu said the experimental farms would also be enlarged.
An estimated 3 000 hectares of land affiliated to the local agricultural colleges would be cultivated by local farmers trained by Chinese and equipped with farming facilities including the irrigation system and made-in-China tractors.
Around 10 000 local farmers are expected to be trained to use the farming facilities.
“We will promote the use of solar-powered irrigation facilities as a way to help local farmers cushion the impact of abnormal weather patterns, so they can make the migration to modern farming which relies less heavily on weather,” Mr Yu said.
Zimbabwe has suffered the worst drought in six decades this season. As the farm produce is foreseen to drop sharply, the Government sought to import as many as 230 000 tonnes of maize from neighbouring Zambia.
The concept of agricultural technology demonstration centres is an initiative announced by the Chinese government as early as in 2006 to facilitate technology transfer to African countries.
The Chinese government agrees to provide funds for the construction and the first three years’ operation of these centres before handing them over to the host governments.
There are at present over 20 such demonstration centres in African countries including Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Liberia, Togo, Sudan, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, and Rwanda.