Minister Of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, And Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka in an exclusive interview with TechnoMag From Ngungunyana Building No.1 Liberation Legacy Way, revealed to this publication that the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is the buyer of first and last resort outside the contracted maize, cotton and other crops.
Minister Dr Masuka said this as The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) has put out the list of registered contractors for the 2021 winter wheat cropping season to curb side marketing of the controlled crop. Wheat is a controlled product and should only be sold to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) or a contractor who would have financed the farmer. Any engagements with other players is not allowed.
Dr Masuka defended the position the GMB is given not as a conflict of interest from government giving it monopoly.He said
”infact in a developmental society in a developmental state, government must be both an active player and a facilitator and as we grow, then the private sector can come in and government can go back to its role of being a facilitator and an enabler.”
The authority is also mandated to facilitate business and trade through increased internal and external markets, and creating an environment for increased environmental stewardship, enhanced traceability and sustainable agricultural production by December 2021, among others. Government has targeted an increase in wheat production to meet national requirement and be self-sufficient.
This is in line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the Agriculture Recovery Plan and the National Development Strategy 1 and in pursuit of the vision by becoming an empowered and prosperous upper middle income society by 2030. Last season, farmers produced wheat enough to cover nine months’ supply to meet domestic demand.
Minister Masuka further highlighted
”In the current stage government has to be very actively involved in such things as grains, such things as water provision.And i think this is the right thing in terms of the specific statutory instruments 145 of 2019, 96, 97 and 188 of 2021 these statutory instruments do not prohibit private sector participation in the production of maize, traditional grains, cotton, wheat and other crops.What this statutory instrument simply says is that those that have not participated in the production through contracting may not purchase so you can not harvest where you did not sow.”
In a statement yesterday, AMA said the approved contractors had met all the requirements to be wheat buyers for the season in accordance with the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Authority Act Chapter 18:24 and Statutory Instrument 140 of 2013. The approved contractors for 2021 were Central Millers Private Limited, Agripeak Incorporated, Grain Co, Northern Farming, Cicada Farming, Staywell Trading, Paperhole Investment, Finance Aid, Semegal Investment, Framond Trading, and Chiseller Services.
Farmers have this season planted more than 66 000 hectares of wheat during the 2021 winter cropping season with the planted area becoming the third highest since independence. The hectarage is 78 percent of the targeted 85 000 hectares. AMA, as the regulator, is mandated to transform from a perceived levy collection authority to a robust, responsible and dynamic regulator and facilitator for increased production, enhanced productivity and improved and sustainable agricultural value chains profitability by December 2022.
The Minister Of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, And Rural Resettlement boldly stood his ground adding
”So we encourage private sector participation so we are actually crowding in the private sector to participate in the production of their raw material but to do so we must safeguard that by putting penalties on anyone purchasing outside that framework and for the strategic grains we have said the gmb is the buyer of first and last resort outside the contracted maize, cotton and other crops.”