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Friday, 12 December 2014 12:26

Zimbabwe Eyes Russian Beef Market

CowthBy Elita Chikwati

HARARE, Zimbabwe, December 12, 2014 (The Herald) -- Zimbabwe may soon start exporting beef to the lucrative Russian market as it emerged that negotiations to that effect are already underway, a Cabinet minister said.

Speaking after a meeting with the visiting Russian delegation at his Ngungunyana Building offices, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said a Zimbabwean technical mission was expected to visit Russia to familiarise itself with the protocols required by that country when importing beef.

"The technical team will also look at the vaccines and medicines Zimbabwe may require for the livestock sector as we are considering exporting beef to Russia.

"We will also have a team from Russia visiting Zimbabwe to look at all our livestock sector and the veterinary requirements on the ground so they can have a full profile of diseases affecting the livestock," he said.

The meeting also agreed that Zimbabwe will produce seed for Russia as the country does not allow genetically modified crops.

Russia recently banned the production and importation of GMO products and Dr Made said Zimbabwe could take advantage of the situation to produce clean seed for that country.

"We should take advantage of the situation to produce seed, be it vegetable, maize and other commodities that are difficult to produce in Russia. The technical team will also look at plant quarantine and phytosanitary issues.

"We have inherent natural conditions and we have fought the battle of introduction of GMOs. We will seize the opportunity, as our vegetative period is long even though we have winter," he said.

Dr Made said it was important that the Russian delegation emphasised on the need to produce wheat and edible oil in Zimbabwe as a strategic food reserve.

He said cotton production was also an important crop in food production as it contributed towards the production of edible oils.

"We agreed to rehabilitate silos and to build new ones," he said

The head of delegation, Professor Igor Avakumov, said Russia imported beef, fruits, cheese and other agricultural products for above $40 billion every year from the European and United States of America markets.

"We had sanctions imposed on us and the leadership decided to cancel imports from Europe and America. The import directions have been re-oriented to Latin America, Asia and Africa.

"We are also interested in importing citrus fruits as we do not have much in Russia," he said.

He said Russia was also interested in establishing grain mills and oil extraction plants in Zimbabwe to reduce hunger in Africa.

"Flour and oil are the first basic food products in cases of emergency. Zimbabwe will be able to return to its status as the breadbasket of Africa," he said.

Professor Auyakumov said agricultural production in Russia was increasing as the farmers, both large-scale and small-scale, were subsidised by government.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Russia date back to the liberation struggle when it supported nationalists who toppled the Smith regime.

(*This article was originally published by The Herald)

 
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