Zimbabwe and Belarus Strengthen Ties in Agriculture and Economy 

The two countries have signed eight bilateral deals and launched a farm mechanisation programme

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe and Belarus have agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in various sectors, especially agriculture and economy, following a meeting between their top officials in Harare.

The meeting was attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Belarus Special Envoy General Victor Sheiman, who delivered a message from Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. The two leaders discussed ways to implement the agreements signed during President Lukashenko’s historic visit to Zimbabwe in January 2023, which was the first by a Belarusian leader to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Among the agreements were eight bilateral deals in education, agriculture, and economic cooperation. The two leaders also launched the second phase of the farm mechanization program, which saw Zimbabwe receiving an additional 1,300 tractors, 14 combine harvesters, and disc harrows from Belarus. The first phase involved 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters, and five low-bed trucks.

After the meeting, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Fredrick Shava said Zimbabwe and Belarus had good relations and were pursuing issues in agriculture, especially dairy. He said Zimbabwe could benefit from Belarus’ technology, as it is the world’s largest dairy producer per capita. He also said Belarus had plans to establish a state-of-the-art dairy facility in Zimbabwe to improve national milk production.

Zimbabwe’s dairy sector has been recovering, with milk production increasing from 75 million liters in 2020 to 91.4 million liters in 2023. However, the country still faces a deficit of about 30 million liters per year, which it imports from South Africa and Belgium. The government and the EU have supported smallholder dairy farmers with inputs and training to boost their productivity and quality.

Ambassador Shava also said Zimbabwe and Belarus were exploring other areas of cooperation, such as mining, energy, health, and tourism. He said Belarus had expressed interest in investing in lithium mining, as Zimbabwe has one of the largest lithium deposits in the world. He also said the two countries enhanced their political dialogue and people-to-people exchanges.

Zimbabwe’s engagement with Belarus is part of its policy of re-engaging with the international community after years of isolation. The country has also been seeking to diversify its trade and investment partners, especially with countries that share its vision of development and sovereignty. Zimbabwe has been under US sanctions for over two decades, while Belarus has also faced sanctions for its support of Russia in the Ukraine conflict.

The meeting between President Mnangagwa and General Sheiman came amid political turmoil and nationwide protests in Belarus following a disputed presidential election in August 2023 that saw President Lukashenko claiming a sixth term in office. The opposition and some Western countries have rejected the results and called for a new vote. However, President Mnangagwa has expressed solidarity with President Lukashenko and congratulated him on his re-election.

The two leaders have also vowed to continue working together to defend their national interests and uphold the principles of multilateralism and international law. They have also pledged to support each other in regional and global forums, such as the African Union and the United Nations.

Source: The Herald


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