Zimbabwe’s agronomists show sharp diplomatic talent: sell beef to Russia while honeying the deal up by inviting Ukraine to ApiExpo Africa

Ceaser Mhukahuru reports from Harare that Zimbabwe will soon start exporting beef to Russia. Other related agricultural products are to follow, according to Joseph Mtakwese Made, the Southern African nation’s Minister of Agriculture, 2009 to date.

Zimbabwean delelegation led by Joseph Gondo, Principal Director, Ministry of Agriculture of Zimbabwe, in front of the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food in Kyiv, October 2014. (Photo from the official website of the Honorary Consulate of Zimbabwe in Ukraine)
Zimbabwean delelegation led by Joseph Gondo, Principal Director, Ministry of Agriculture of Zimbabwe, in front of the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food in Kyiv, October 2014. (Photo from the official website of the Honorary Consulate of Zimbabwe in Ukraine)

As reported by the Global Meat News:

Russia had offered to provide pharmaceutical and veterinary assistance to help Zimbabwe produce good-quality beef, and help for poultry and pig farming, to build capacity for future exports.

Mostly known to have led the government body in a decade of inadequate harvest from Zimbabwe’s agriculture, in 2013 Minister Made argued that genetically modified food was cheaper to produce, but costly in the long-term as it contaminated the environment and harmed biodiversity.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, a 13-member Zimbabwean delelegation led by Joseph Gondo, Principal Director, The Agricultural Extension Services (Agritex), is on a visit in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Zimbabwe’s Honorary Consulate in Kyiv informs.

The delegates came from Zimbabwe to promote the ApiExpo Africa 2014 event jointly hosted by ApiTrade Africa, Beekeeper’s Association of Zimbabwe and the Government of Zimbabwe from October 6 – 11, 2014 at the Harare International Conference Centre.

On October 1, the Zimbabwean government officials visited the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food.

The two parties discussed various potential points of cooperation within the sector of trade, import/export opportunities, knowledge and technology exchange as well as overall further development of the relationship between the two countries.

In September 2014, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who came to Harare on an official visit, condemned West-led sanctions imposed on their two countries.

Wikipedia provides some background:

During the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, a number of governments applied sanctions against individuals and businesses from Russia and Ukraine. Sanctions were approved by the United States, the European Union and other countries and international organisations. Russia has responded with sanctions against a number of countries, including a total ban on food imports from the EU, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia.

According to this 2013 EU agri-food trade report:

Russia relies on supplies of meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

Accidentally, tobacco was grown in Zimbabwe even before the arrival of the British settlers — or colonizers, depending on your worldview — in the country in 1880, once rivaling the U.S. as the source of the world’s best quality tobacco. To the extent that now Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe warns of about 5,3 million trees being cut down each year as part of tobacco production.

Will Russia’s need for tobacco contribute to further deforestation in Zimbabwe?

Interviewed by Byron Mutingwende, Gift Muti, Secretary-General of General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe, explains:

Most farmers in Zimbabwe pay between USD2 and USD3 for eight hours of hard labour for either cultivating or applying chemicals in the fields, a far cry from the agreed poverty datum line of around USD520.

Will trade with Ukraine and Russia change anything for better in these people’s lives?

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