At a time when Africa is charting a new path in terms of food security due to geopolitical conflicts and resultant shortages, Zimbabwe has been tipped to become a major player in ensuring continental food security.
This emerged yesterday following a meeting between President Mnangagwa and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretary-general, Mr Wamakele Mene, who brought with him investors eyeing the country’s agricultural sector.
In pursuit of attaining continental food security, AfCFTA is spearheading investment into the country including a new diversified investor, multi-million Switzerland headquartered Bühler Group, which focuses on leading processes solutions and sustainable value chains.
Bühler has three business pillars – grains and food solutions to ensure safe and healthy food and feed, consumer foods solutions that create culinary delights, and advanced materials that contribute to the production of energy-efficient vehicles and buildings.
Such is the appetite that has been whetted by President Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra as well as investor-friendly policies which has seen conglomerates such as the Bühler Group expressing interest in the country.
Zimbabwe intends to become an upper-middle-class economy by 2030 and sectors such as agriculture are critical to meeting that goal.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting with President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare, Mr Mene said it was high time Africa charted a new path in terms of food security. Mr Mene said the purpose of meeting President Mnangagwa was to brief him on some of the proposals that are being initiated for industrialisation, food security, and processing of agriculture.
“President Mnangagwa was very emphatic that food security for Zimbabwe is important but also for the region and continent.
“We have an interest as the secretariat because we want to see more trade; agricultural products being traded around the continent so that we do not rely on Ukraine, for example, for the importation of grains, maize, wheat or barley or these other cereals,” he said.
Mr Mene said they brought the Bühler Group as it has shown keen interest in partnering and working with Zimbabwe to improve food security.
“We believe the model the Bühler Group is looking at here in Zimbabwe will not only benefit the SADC region but the entire continent from a food security standpoint, food production and for the purpose of food processing,” he said.
Mr Mene said the President wants swift implementation of the project and the Bühler Group and Zimbabwe will agree on the timelines for the commencement of the project.
“That will be between the company and the Government of Zimbabwe to decide, but the President was very clear that he wants to see action as soon as possible. He emphasised an action plan to start working immediately,” he said.
“Our brief was really just to facilitate this discussion because trade is our responsibility and mandate to the extent that Zimbabwe is in a position to export agricultural products to the rest of the continent so that we see an enhancement of intra-Africa trade.”
Ambassador Kufa Chinoza, who was part of the Bühler delegation that met President Mnangagwa including Cabinet ministers, and Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency acting Chief Executive Mrs Duduzile Shinya, told The Herald that negotiations were moving according to plan.
“Bühler is a Swiss firm that focuses on the grain processing value chain from the field up to the production stage where it produces products like pasta and macaroni.
“The waste products are also used to produce stock and poultry feed. It also assembles mechanised silos including galvanised and concrete ones,” he said.
Ambassador Chinoza said once all negotiations are concluded between the Government and Bühler Group, the deal will be ready to kick off.
Bühler Holding AG is a Swiss multinational plant equipment manufacturer based in Uzwil, Switzerland.
It is known for plant and equipment and related services for processing foods and manufacturing advanced materials.
The group holds leading market positions worldwide in the fields of technology as well as processes for transforming grain into flour and animal feeds, producing pasta and chocolate, and manufacturing die-cast components.
The core technologies of the Group are in the field of mechanical and thermal process engineering.