Zim firm secures multi-million dollar deals in China

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BEIJING – A local agricultural equipment  supply firm, Platinum Agriculture, has signed agreements with various  Chinese companies for the provision of farming and mining equipment and  agro-chemicals to famers and small scale miners in Zimbabwe.

The deals, running into millions of dollars, were sealed ahead of  President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s state visit to China and were secured  with the technical assistance of government specialists.

In an interview here, the company’s director Dakarai Mapuranga said the  deals would be implemented at different time frames based on the varying  technical requirements.

“We came at the invitation of ministry of Foreign Affairs and  International Trade as part of the private sector contingent, we were  also accompanied by technicians and technical people from different  ministries in particular the ministry of agriculture which is one of the  areas we are working on as Platinum Agriculture,” he said.

“Our mission was to sign off public private sector initiatives that  would help Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.”

Mapuranga said the first agreement signed was a $400 million deal with  a company called Lovol, which is the biggest Chinese manufacturer of  agricultural equipment.

The company produces 100 000 tractors and 50 000 combine harvesters per  annum.

“This is a joint venture and commercial loan agreement which will see  us as a country getting equipment such as combine harvesters and  tractors,” he said.

He said delivery of the agricultural equipment was expected to start in  the next three months.

“What we are going to do is once the equipment arrives, it is going to  be disbursed through commercial banks this then means, for example, if a  farmer wants a piece of equipment they make a lease finance loan  application through selected commercial banks and then they do  re-payments, some repayments are over three years some are over a five  year period.”

The second deal was signed with a company called Dayu for the supply of  centre pivots and other irrigation equipment.

The deal is worth $80 million.

“Chinese technicians will be visiting Zimbabwe soon to see the farms  and irrigation areas where we need to install, so irrigation will move a  little bit slower because there is need for the Chinese suppliers to  familiarise themselves with the irrigation projects where the equipment  will be deployed.”

“We also signed an agreement with Good Agro of china for a $40 million  revolving facility that will allow us to import agro-chemicals on a  revolving credit facility basis.

“As you are aware we have struggled to raise foreign currency for  payments that are normally required upfront but in this case our Chinese  counterparts will give us the goods upfront and when we grow crops we  harvest and pay later.”

Meanwhile, Mapuranga said through their recently formed subsidiary,  Princewood Enterpises, they had also signed a co-operation agreement  with a company called Allen Bus for the supply of 1 500 buses, to help  boost the country’s public transport system.

“This facility is a private sector initiative which is in response to  government’s call to de-congest the cities so we are going to bring into  Zimbabwe 1 500 buses, the first 500 will come in as complete built then  the remaining 1000 will come in to be assembled in Zimbabwe. We think  that this will help our public mass transportation system,” he said.

“There will be some alterations on the buses but it (the deal) is worth  at least $200 million, we have a very bad road network so there are some  adjustments that need to be made to the buses so they can operate on our  road network, for example the suspension on the buses, we think that in  the next six months phase one should see delivery.”

Mapuranga said measures had been put in place to ensure that the  equipment and buses were serviceable locally.

“We have had a lot of support from the line ministries that gave us  their technical people specifically to make sure that we do not get  equipment or machinery that is not appropriate for our Zimbabwean market  or conditions.

“There has been a mistake in the past where goods were just imported  without being adjusted to our Zimbabwe environment and in some cases we  had imported some machinery that had no spare parts, so we have made  sure that whoever we get into partnership with builds a service centre  in the country, that is what we have negotiated for we do not want to be  a dumping ground,” he said. – New Ziana

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