MATABELELAND North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema has pleaded with the Japanese government to invest in infrastructure projects in his province to help improve people’s living standards.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Mathema said major investment is needed in agriculture to transform small-scale farmers in Matabeleland North to commercial farmers with the capacity to export to other countries.
Speaking at a meeting with Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Yoshi Hiraishi, Mathema accused local farmers of remaining stuck in subsistence farming “as if they were still under the Cecil John Rhodes colonial era”.
“Matabeleland North is a rural district and naturally, therefore, it is a farming district. We want to transform farming in Matabeleland North,” he said.
“We want to have commercial farmers and not subsistence farmers on land, which was given to us by Cecil John Rhodes, which emphasised that they should produce only enough for their families.”
Hiraishi had made a courtesy call to Mathema’s offices ahead of his visit to Matabeleland North to tour projects funded by the Japanese government.
Mathema admitted that indegenous local farmers have failed to match the standards set by white former commercial farmers, adding most of them were relying on ox-drawn ploughs and only producing food for their families.
“We want investment in agriculture to transform our local farmers into commercial farmers. We don’t want to continue seeing our farmers using ox-drawn ploughs and as such we would love for example to see a small tractor assembly plant set up in Lupane,” he said.
“It will be nice to see Japanese investors in Lupane in the production of such small tractors for our farmers. We want more investment in water infrastructure development such as dams and piped water schemes to our farmers in the province.
“We need to commercialise our farming but we cannot commercialise if our farmers do not have tractors and rely on ox drawn ploughs.”
The Japanese diplomat pledged to look into Mathema’s request, before revealing that the embassy would exhibit at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
“We are also going to have a stand at the ZITF. It will be four times bigger than last time. It will definitely attract other Japanese companies that have a keen interest in investing in Zimbabwe,” Hiraishi said.