Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Zimbabwean companies must produce irrigation equipment, both to cut imports and to allow farmers to boost production of food and raw materials for other manufacturers.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister David Musabayana yesterday toured one of the irrigation companies, Maka Resources in Ruwa, on the eastern border of Harare.
Maka is the first Zimbabwean company to successfully design, produce and install functional centre pivots.
Deputy Minister Musabayana was accompanied by Secretary for Industry and Commerce Dr Mavis Sibanda, Angolan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe senior officials, representatives from commercial banks, and other stakeholders.
Addressing stakeholders after the tour, Deputy Minister Musabayana said irrigation development was key for agricultural production not only in Zimbabwe, but across Africa given the challenges brought about by climate change.
He said manufacturing irrigation equipment locally was a noble idea as it would help reduce imports, earn the country foreign currency and result in an increase in agricultural productivity.
“Zimbabwe has gone through a dry patch because of economic sanctions which affected the flow of goods and finance. It is a serious challenge to be a net importer.
“For Africa, the trending thing was the import of complete kits for assembling of cars but we have seen Maka going into manufacturing of centre pivots. We should create necessary capacity for our industry to grow. This is a showcase that Zimbabwe is open for business,” he said.
Deputy Minister Musabayana was impressed by the way Maka was working on finding solutions to the challenges and filling gaps on the market, adding that Zimbabwe was looking at increasing export earnings from goods and services from US$4,5 billion in 2018 to US$7 billion by 2023.
By 2030, export earnings are primed to hit US$14 billion.
Zimbabwe has a vision of becoming an upper middle income society by 2030, and Deputy Minister Musabayana said he was happy that companies such as Maka were feeding into the vision.
He urged local companies to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, a trading block that would create more export openings for companies on the continent to grow their revenues and the national economies as they supplied each other.
“I am happy that Maka is using available resources. I hope more business people will take a leaf from the organisation to see opportunities in the land rather than challenges only,” said Deputy Minister Musabayana.
Dr Sibanda said Maka’s operations were evidence that agricultural productivity could be improved.
“Having a company manufacturing irrigation equipment locally is a sterling contribution towards the economy resuscitation especially in the quest to improve on agriculture production. Their work will have a great impact on the agriculture sector in line with Government policy of import substitution. We should reduce the import bill.
“The manufacturing sector gets 60 percent of its raw materials from the agriculture therefore this investment is going to have an impact in the processing industry. This is why we are supporting them; we want to increase agriculture production for the benefit of the country,” she said.
Ambassador Tavares da Silva Neto said he was in Zimbabwe to strengthen relations between Luanda and Harare, adding that Angola used to import equipment and produce from Zimbabwean, trade which he wants reactivated.
Maka chief executive Mr Innocent Sibanda said climate change was impacting negatively on agriculture and there was need to climate-proof the sector. “There is no agriculture without irrigation. We have so many water bodies with a potential of irrigation. We are just above 150 000 hectares of irrigation and Government wants to boost to 300 000 hectares and we thought we needed to play our part,” he said.
“The coming generations should engage and develop solutions to problems. We engaged young engineers to develop solution for our challenge. The challenge is not only in Zimbabwe but Africa. We have the technology and we can share with our neighbours.”