The Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa was the man actor in Parliament this Wednesday as legislators demanded answers on the trip to China which culminated in the two countries signing several agreements that are expected to stimulate economic growth in Zimbabwe.
Parliamentarians quizzed the Minister on what Zimbabwe gained from the investment agreements signed in the Asian economic powerhouse.
Chinamasa replied that China made commitments to fund infrastructural development projects in areas such as power generation, dualisation of highways and other construction projects.
Chinamasa also said the Asian economic giant does not give budgetary funding to any nation in the world but has committed to funding any bankable and viable projects.
Zimbabwe adopted the Look East policy which has seen increased economic and mutual cooperation with Beijing grow over the years.
In a recent visit led by President Robert Mugabe to the Asian nation, several bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed that will result in China releasing funding to different sectors of the economy.
Parliament also discussed the influx of imports in the country and government was taken to task forr giving local fast foods outlet, Kentucky Fried Chickens (KFC) the green light to import processed potatoes at the expense of local farmers’ produce.
Amid allegations that KFC was issued a licence to import fresh vegetables including potatoes, the Potato Growers Association has argued that local production already meets domestic demand, and that there is need for the law to be applied equally.
Mutasa South legislator, Irene Zindi quizzed the rationale of that decision, asking the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made on the impact of such a decision on the local farming industry.
In response, Dr Made said potato is a crop that has always been fully supported by government and the authorities are concerned with the sector.
Local farmers have also called for protection from regional subsidised products entering the country cheaply.
South African fruit and vegetable exports to Zimbabwe are worth at least US$1 million per month, according to trade data.
In December 2010, the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) banned the importation of fresh vegetables, including potatoes, following heavy lobbying from local producers.
Communal areas around Nyanga, Mutasa, Domboshava, Chiweshe, Wedza, Goromonzi and Mhondoro are producing significant quantities of the crop, with an estimated 900 to 1000 hectares under potato production every year.