Anhui plants seeds of progress in Zimbabwe

Updated: 2013-07-23 07:19

By Ma Chenguang in Hefei (China Daily)

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Anhui plants seeds of progress in Zimbabwe

Anhui province has increased farm output and provided jobs for people in Zimbabwe by launching agricultural investment projects in the African nation.

Zhou Shiqi, deputy-director of the Anhui Provincial Agricultural Commission, said Anhui's farming program in Zimbabwe, which began in December 2010 as a "going out" project, has been warmly welcomed by the Zimbabwean government and local residents.

The three-phase project aims to help cultivate 500,000 hectares of land.

The Anhui-Zimbabwean Agricultural Co-operative Program, a joint project of the Anhui Provincial State Farms Group and the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defense, is expanding into seven farms, one food-processing plant, one building materials factory and an international freight company.

Zhou said the program in the southern African country has raised employment, eased food shortages and trained professional staff.

Hou Yize, a division chief of the Anhui Provincial State Farms Group, who is in charge of the office for the Cooperative Association of Anhui Enterprises for Development in Zimbabwe, said most of the workers in the program are local people.

The program cultivated 5,000 hectares of land between December 2010 and September 2012 in its first phase. Another 50,000 hectares were added in the second phase, which began October 2012.

In the first phase, the yields for wheat, corn, soybeans and tobacco grown on three farms reached 6,000, 6,750, 2,250 and 2,250 kilos per hectare, respectively. Those figures were all above the local averages, Hou said.

The program also provided some 600 jobs for locals and helped to train local technical officials and farmers in the use of farming technology, Hou said.

One farm has become a teaching and practice base for the Zimbabwean Chinhoyi University of Technology.

The program's farming scale, equipment and farming skills all have exerted a positive influence in Zimbabwe, he said.

After inspecting the program during a recent tour, Anhui Vice-Governor Liang Weiguo said he firmly believed the project, an example of "going out", will have a "bright future".

While meeting Liang in Zimbabwe on April 23, Chidarikire Faber Edmund, governor of Mashonaland West Province in northern Zimbabwe, spoke highly of the project's achievements.

Besides increasing jobs, the program has also brought agricultural prosperity to Mashonaland West, he told Liang.

Douglas Nyikayaramba, brigadier-general of the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defense and deputy-president of the program, thanked Liang for the contributions made by Anhui and the Anhui Provincial State Farms Group to Zimbabwe's agricultural development.

Zhu Ning, deputy-director of the Anhui Provincial Department of Commerce, said the "going out" strategy was a major decision for the provincial government amid globalization and in line with China's blueprint of balancing a "bringing in" investment approach and a "going out" policy.

More than 490 of the world's top 500 companies have invested in China, and some 1,600 foreign research centers have been established in the nation.

Meanwhile, Chinese investors had put $77.22 billion into 4,425 projects in 141 countries and regions overseas by the end of 2012 as "going out" programs.

Jiang Yan, deputy director of the Anhui Provincial State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said that by the end of last year, 16 Anhui enterprises had invested some 28 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) on 48 projects in more than 30 countries and regions in Asia, the Americas and Africa.