Thursday, December 20, 2007
THE revived Agricultural Marketing Authority will start operations early next year, Agriculture Minister Mr Rugare Gumbo has said. Mr Gumbo said the ministry was in the process of removing bottlenecks that were hindering the appointments of new boards to key agricultural institutions, a factor that was central before the relaunch of AMA.
"As you are aware, we are busy running around to ensure that everything that is required for the 2007/2008 farming season is provided and after that we will concentrate on AMA," the minister said.
In a speech read on his behalf during the 13th annual congress of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union held in Mutare in September, Mr Gumbo said the parastatals that needed new boards include Tobacco Industry Markerting Board, Tobacco Research Board, Pig Industry Board and the Agricultural Research Council.
Agribank, which was then on the list, has since got a new board, joining three other parastatals whose respective boards were appointed recently.
These include the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, whose board is now headed by Dr Tobias Takavarasha but is currently chaired by Mr Basil Nyabadza, in an acting capacity.
The others include the Cold Storage Company board, which is chaired by Professor Lindela Ndlovu and the Grain Marketing Board, under the chairmanship of Mr Charles Chikaura.
The GMB also got a new general manager Albert Mandizha who replaced acting chief executive officer Retired Colonel Samuel Muvuti.
Mr Eric Mvududu is expected to take the reins at Arda in the new year. He will replace Dr Joseph Matowanyika who was fired early this year.
This time Mr Gumbo said he expects the parastatals to perform in order for AMA to have something to regulate.
The revival of AMA has been on the cards for sometime with farmers pushing for its revival, arguing that the agriculture industry could not functions properly without the regulatory body.
Early this year, Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union vice president Mr Edward Raradza said the authority was relevant as it would assist in securing inputs for farmers as well as market crops and safeguard agianst the misuse of farm implements and ensure transparency in the distribution of all agricultural inputs.
Mr Raradza’s statements were in response to comments made by the then Agriculture Minister, Dr Joseph Made, that AMA was no longer a priority.
Dr Made then said Government did not have enough financial resources to establish the AMA board.
The lack of a proper marketing authority for the agriculture industry had given rise to side-marketing by farmers seeking super profits and circumventing non-viable prices offered on the official market.
The practice has, however, threatened to scuttle contract farming as contractors were not getting real returns on their investment as farmers were taking the produce they would have produced using the contractors’ inputs to fly-by- night buyers who wooed them with cash on the spots.