Lovemore Zigara, Midlands Bureau
A CHINESE company,Tian Ze Tobacco has since 2005 invested about $100 million in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector through providing interest-free loans to local farmers.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Huang Ping said the investment by the company was set to increase as his country seeks to transform Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector.
“Tian Ze has provided about $100 million interest-free loans and offered free technical guidance to the local tobacco farmers,” said Mr Ping.
“We are hopeful that in the future that technical support will increase as we seek to ensure that Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector reaches its full potential,” he said.
Tian Ze Tobacco is owned by China Tobacco Company, which is owned by the Chinese government.
The company became operational in 2005 following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and China.
The main purpose of the MoU was to facilitate and strengthen collaboration between Zimbabwe and the Asian country in boosting Zimbabwe’s tobacco production.
Specifically, Tian Ze was established with the purpose to assist farmers in Zimbabwe to increase production as well as improve the quality of their produce.
From the onset, Tian Ze Tobacco participated on both public auction floors and contract farming.
Its contract farming project kicked off with one farmer growing 20 hectares of tobacco in 2005.
The contracted hectarage and the number of farmers has grown over the years to 10 000 registered farmers last year.
More farmers are expected to register in the upcoming farming season under the company’s contract arrangement.