Our Bureau

Kolkata, April 15

WITH 11 million hectares of "fallow land being liberated for purpose of agriculture", Zimbabwe has outlined a big scope for Indian companies that wish to supply agricultural inputs, especially fertilisers, to the African nation.

Addressing a session on `Doing business with Zimbabwe' organised here by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BNCCI), Mr Jonathan Wutawunashe, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe in India, said "land reforms" programme undertaken in Zimbabwe was aimed at unleashing the scope in agriculture and food processing.

Mr Wutawunashe urged Indian companies to leverage upon the technology available here and set up downstream food processing ventures in Zimbabwe. In this regard, he specifically mentioned the scope in sugar, sunflower, peanuts extraction for cooking oil, etc.

Companies such as Kirloskar Brothers were already present in Zimbabwe and were selling pumps used in irrigation. Tata buses were plying in that country even as some other Indian companies had already evinced interest in setting up business interests in Zimbabwe, he said.

The Ambassador sought to allay fears in the minds of prospective investors and blamed a section of the western media for "spreading untruths" about land been seized and white farmers being harassed. "One white family owned land whose size was as big as Belgium," he said, and hinted that the adverse media publicity about Zimbabwe was also because "some absentee landlords were absentee members of the UK's House of Lords".

He said that despite the adverse publicity, "about 400 British companies are still operating in Zimbabwe and not a single one among these has decided to leave. Zimbabwe is a safe investment destination. It is essential to be vigilant about what is actually happening in Zimbabwe beyond what appears in newspapers."

According to the envoy, Zimbabwe had a "Look East" policy of its own, and the African nation was looking forward to "solid and sustainable relationships" with countries such as India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, among others.

Earlier, in his address, Mr S.N. Nundy, President of BNCCI, said Zimbabwe could become the hub for Indian companies' exports to South Africa and Mozambique, among other African countries.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 16, 2005)
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