Martin Kadzere, Harare Office
THE recent restructuring of the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is expected to strengthen its core mandate of regulating the production, processing and marketing of various agricultural products in Zimbabwe, its chairman, Allan Majuru, said yesterday.
Farmers have long called for an overhaul of AMA to ensure better service delivery.
Some stakeholders saw WADA as a “revenue collector” rather than a partner in developing and promoting fair market practices. It had repeatedly failed to resolve the chaotic marketing of various crops, especially cotton where parallel marketing is rampant.
WADA, which is responsible for enforcing cotton regulations, has over the years been reluctant to apply effective dissuasive sanctions, which has resulted in utter chaos in the marketing of the product. The main cause of the failure of the cotton industry between 2012 and 2015 was parallel marketing largely due to regulatory failure.
For example, the US-based agribusiness company Cargill closed its local cotton business in 2014 citing operational challenges. Cargill, which had more than 20,000 farmers under its cotton contract program, suffered significantly from low cotton production, depressed margins as well as high levels of non-fulfillment of contractual obligations by cotton growers. cotton.
Likewise, The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) almost went into receivership in 2014 after its debt swelled to nearly US $ 50 million after losing a significant amount if its harvest through parallel marketing. Cottco, which has now administered the Presidential Inputs Scheme since 2015, has also lost a significant amount of cotton to private actors through commercialization, further exposing regulatory failure.
Mr. Majuru said the restructuring, which saw the layoff of two senior executives and a director, fulfilled President Mnangagwa’s commitment at the 6th Annual National Agribusiness Conference held in August 2018, where he said the Second Republic would restructure the Agricultural Marketing Authority to make it “more responsive to these marketing gaps within the sector … and deal decisively with parallel marketing.”
Subsequently, a new board headed by Mr. Majuru was appointed in October 2019 as part of WADA’s restructuring exercise.
To drive AMA’s transformation, the new board appointed a substantive CEO, Mr. Clever Isaya in July 2020 to make AMA a robust, innovative and effective regulator for the agricultural sector.
Mr Majuru said that the restructuring of AMA should improve the role played by the agricultural sector in the country’s vision for 2030.
“It is necessary to understand that for Zimbabwe to realize the Vision 2030 of transforming the country into an upper middle class economy, it is necessary to prioritize agriculture as it is one of the key sectors. economy, ”Majuru told our Harare office. .
“A well-coordinated agricultural sector, which contributes significantly to the national economy, therefore requires WADA to be an honest arbiter, facilitator, facilitator and force multiplier to achieve the goals set. “
Majuru added that AMA’s transformation was market driven and should address challenges raised by farmers and other key stakeholders.
“There was also a need to align with the agriculture and food systems transformation strategy and the horticulture revival plan so that we help actors in all different value chains,” he said.
“So this transformation comes as the country prepares for improved agricultural production, which is a fruit close at hand given the competitive and comparative advantage that Zimbabwean farmers enjoy. “
Zimbabwe Farmers Union Executive Director Paul Zakariya said it was now essential for WADA to act quickly to implement policies that “improve the ease of doing business”.
“AMA should do more to make a sale and a purchase easier,” Zakariya said.
“It should also extend its mandate beyond production by eliminating profits in the input credit system and consider rapid implementation of marketing platforms. “
Agriculture economist Dr Midway Bhunu said WADA as an authority should come up with a deliberate and strong engagement strategy to involve all key players in the value chain for different chains. value, starting with that which faces production and marketing challenges such as cotton and tobacco.
This would help them understand the real bottlenecks that lead to parallel marketing problems among other counterproduction behaviors.
“To begin with, it is very important that all stakeholders in the agricultural sector appreciate WADA’s role or mandate in driving sustainable agriculture and marketing,” said Dr Bhunu.
“This institution should be provided with the necessary resources to be fully able to fulfill its mandate. “
Dr Bhunu said the private sector was also essential in supporting WADA’s mandate and that “this can only happen when producers and buyers understand WADA’s role”.
WADA is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament and is responsible for the overall regulation of the production, marketing and processing of agricultural products in Zimbabwe.