Zim-Russia relations strengthen Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos (left) and Chain Supply Manager Obert Zhoya inspect wheat stocked at GMB Aspindale depot donated by Russia yesterday.— Picture: Joseph Manditswara.

Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter

The Zimbabwe-Russia relationship continues to grow with Russia donating at least 25 000 tonnes of wheat which is expected to augment food supplies to the vulnerable groups needing extra food.

Speaking after touring the Aspindale depot of the Grain Marketing Board, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said another batch of the donation was expected in the country any time soon.

Apart from wheat, Russia also donated 4 000 tonnes of potash as Zimbabwe has started receiving a consignment of 16 000 tonnes of fertiliser donated by the Russian Government. The total donation collectively consists of over 26 000 tonnes of fertilisers and 50 000 tonnes of grain.

The fertilisers will be distributed to the most vulnerable households to support the successful Presidential Inputs Programme.

Cde Haritatos thanked the Russian Government, saying the donation will go a long way in supporting the most vulnerable households who are also involved in the agricultural transformation that is going on in Zimbabwe. The gesture would also improve the country’s wheat reserves.

“Once we receive all the wheat, the Head of State will do the official handover. This donation was given to the Republic of Zimbabwe, so our President will tell us what he wants to do with this wheat. We are very grateful to the Russian Government. We have two seasons of fabulous record-breaking seasons of wheat. Our goal as a nation is to start exporting wheat. The donations will make the country even better in the region. Two African countries produced enough wheat and we are one of those. We are anticipating to break more and more records in agricultural transformation.”

“The good part of it is that our dams are full. As we enter the new seasons we have made preparations as the new ministry to make sure farmers have enough inputs. Our targets and hectares can be achieved. Our targets are 90 000ha but once we finish assessing our targets, the water usage then we publish exactly what we are looking for in the winter season but we are expecting another record season,’’ he said.

Zimbabwe is also among six African countries which are expected to receive about 50 000 tonnes of grain free of charge from Russia as part of efforts to improve food security.

Cde Haritatos said Government was improving the country’s irrigation facilities to counter the effects of climate change and the effects of the El Nino farming season. But dams had enough water for irrigation during the winter season.

Zimbabwe has not been spared from the effects of climate change, hence the Government has introduced a raft of home-grown solutions aimed at making sure the country has enough food.

The relationship between these two countries continues to grow as the Second Republic under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa has been keeping its engagement and reengagement drive on a positive trajectory, culminating in agreements with several countries in a bid to bolster cooperation across various sectors.

In September last year, the Government announced that private companies can now import maize without paying duty as part of the extra precautions to ensure that the possible lower rainfall this season as a result of an El-Nino will not lead to inadequate grains stocks.

Farmers have welcomed the donation saying it has come at the correct time when the majority require it.

Mrs Memory Kaninga of Beatrice Farm said good relations are critical adding that this donation will change the lives of the vulnerable.

“This is a critical commitment which needs to be thanked. We are grateful for the donation as this will improve people’s lives. This is greatly appreciated,” she said.

Mr Irvine Taungana of Mapinga thanked authorities for the quick processing of the papers at the border to allow farmers to get the fertilisers on time.

“This is the time to do fertiliser applications so we are grateful for the authorities to speed up the processing of papers so that farmers receive the products on time to ensure a good harvest. We welcome the donation and we expect our friendship with Russia to continue,” he said.

These two countries continue to deepen bilateral cooperation as the two share a long historical bond.

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