Zimbabwe on Monday received 5,400 metric tonnes of rice worth more than 8 million U.S. dollars from China to help alleviate food shortages in the country.
Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira thanked China for the donation, saying it was a gesture that shows true friendship between the two countries.
She said the rice, coming at a time when the country has experienced a poor 2014/15 agricultural season, will go a long way in alleviating food shortages in the country.
The minister said the rice will be distributed to accredited institutions accommodating vulnerable children, old people, the disabled and poor families throughout the country.
In light of the riot that broke out at the country's maximum security prison in Harare last Friday as inmates protested against poor food, the minister said 100 tonnes of the rice will be given to the country's prisons, which have an estimated population of 17, 000 inmates.
"The government of Zimbabwe indeed is very grateful to China for the donation which will go a long way in alleviating food shortages among the vulnerable communities," she said.
Chinese Embassy Charge d' Affaires Cui Chun said the donation testified the strong bilateral ties between China and Zimbabwe, especially in the area of food security and agriculture.
"As the all-weather friend of Zimbabwe, China fully understands the importance of agriculture for Zimbabwe, and is more than willing to support Zimbabwe in its efforts to increase food production and attain food security," said Cui.
He said China attached great importance to agriculture, and had seen its agricultural cooperation with Zimbabwe rising significantly in recent years.
Notable achievements had been made particularly in the tobacco and cotton sectors, which together with other crops now account for almost 80 percent of Zimbabwe's exports to China, he said.
On economic cooperation, China was helping Zimbabwe to expand and revamp its energy and transport infrastructure, as well as in the area of information communication technology.
"Zimbabwe is one of the largest recipients of Chinese aid in Africa. China has provided over 1.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of concessionary and commercial loans to Zimbabwe in recent years," Cui said.