HARARE, Dec 9 — Russia is studying the possibility of increasing trade and economic co-operation with the African continent and Zimbabwe will benefit mainly in the agriculture sector.

The new position by Russia follows the imposition of sanctions on Moscow by the European Union (EU) and the United States to respond with Moscow’s own sanctions against a number of countries, including a total ban on food imports from the EU, the US, Norway, Canada and Australia.

During a meeting with Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation evelopment Minister, Dr Joseph Made, heren Monday, head of a visiting Russian delegation, Igor Avakumov, from the Russian Trade and Industry Ministry, proposed a number of projects that could be implemented between the two countries.

Avakumov said apart from being interested in importing agricultural produce, Russia was also prepared to bring technical expertise to improve the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe.

“Currently due to political differences and sanctions that have been introduced on us, the Russian leadership decided to cancel the importation of certain goods from Europe, that is why the import policy has been re-oriented to focus on countries in Latin America, China and Africa,” he said through an interpreter.

“We believe this has created a brilliant opportunity to strengthen our relations economically and politically.”

He said areas of possible co-operation included seed production, farm mechanization and in the veterinary field.

vakumov said Russia was interested in importing citrus fruits from Zimbabwe as production of the fruits in the European country was low due to harsh climatic conditions. “Imports of citrus fruits from Zimbabwe would be of particular interest to Russia,” he said.

Another member of the delegation, Areg Barseghyan said the private sector in Russia was willing to explore possibilities of setting up food, vegetable and fruit processing plants in Zimbabwe as well as dairy processing plants.

Dr Made said Zimbabwe was willing to co-operate with Russia as it stood to benefit more from co-operating
with Moscow. “We would like to study in more detail your structure that allows credit facilities for farmers, we would like to understand the nature of subsidies. So the credit finance structure that has enabled you to meet your grain requirements will be of particular importance to us,” he said.