MPs query role of AMA

HARARE - The Agriculture Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe (AMA) is raising $155 million for the purchase of grain by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) amid accusations by legislators that the two were duplicating roles.

Appearing before a parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture and Irrigation Development last week, AMA chief executive officer Rocky Mutenha said they had already made an application to the Agriculture ministry for the authority to borrow.

He said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had since recommended that they approach international financial institutions such as the African Development Bank and South African Public Investments Corporation, among others for the loan facility.

Of the total amount, Mutenha told legislators that $55 million would be used to purchase about 200 00 metric tonnes at last year’s market price of $380 per tonne.

“We are in dialogue with GMB so that the money goes to its commercial division to enable them to repay the fund,” said Mutenha.

Members of Parliament, who appeared lost on the role of AMA, however, felt the marketing authority needed to stick to its core business of marketing agricultural products not their purchase.

MPs across the political divide led by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, MDC MP for Lobengula, supported by Chiredzi South MP Kalisto Gwanetsa (Zanu PF), concurred that there was the danger of AMA recommending prices to government that favour them at the expense of farmers since they were also a competitor.

“I really do not understand this gentleman at all. It looks like you have no role to play and hence you are excess to requirements. You have come here to tell us nonsense,” said Nkomo who is also MDC shadow Agriculture minister.

Mutenha explained that AMA would not directly buy the grain itself but would extend a loan to GMB.

He also revealed that he was not even sure that they will be able to access the funding although he expressed hope that financial institutions would extend help on the basis that they were good debtors having worked with them in the past without problems.

“AMA does not buy maize. Maybe I did not adequately explain that to the honourable members. We are looking for money to help GMB since it cannot source on its own as it relies on Treasury allocations,” Mutenha explained.

“We are trying to plug the hole because last time farmers were short-changed because GMB had no cash,” he added.

The AMA chief also revealed that his organisation recommends grain prices to government through the Agriculture ministry.

He however said no decision had been reached at as yet on this year’s price.

Mutenha added that since grain was no longer a controlled commodity, private players would also be purchasing maize at prices that will be determined between the buyer and the farmer.

He said about 56 private dealers had since been registered to date since the beginning of their year on March 4.

GMB needs about $96 million from Treasury to purchase 250 000 metric tonnes for the country’s strategic grain reserve.

Zimbabwe requires over 2 million metric tonnes per year out of which 1,5 million metric tonnes are meant for human consumption while 450 000 metric tonnes are for livestock and industrial use.

Comments (2)

We have to regularise the number and mandates of the various parastals..some of whom are simply duplicating roles performed by government departments. Why not make these parastatals who no one including those manning them know what they do on a day to day basis until such time we are clear on their mandate. Yah, transfer these shady parastals to government. We have too many of them as is..I also query what National Oil company is all about and ditto IPEC..In the case of the latter they have only brought confusion and extra costs with very little to show for their troubles unless one says building a fantastic piece of real estate along Rhodesville avenue is their real mandate. We dont need this one!

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