Government agricultural programme boon to companies

23 Oct, 2019 - 00:10 0 Views
Government agricultural programme boon to companies Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena

The Chronicle

Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau

Government initiated agricultural programmes have become a cash cow for several firms, most of whom have been reeling under the yoke of sanctions and lack of competitiveness owing to subdued availability of foreign currency, legislators heard yesterday.

The Presidential Inputs Scheme and Command Agriculture have revived many seed houses, fertiliser firms and downstream industries, which were battling for survival as farmers were not buying as much products as they used to in the past.

This was said by Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company managing director, Dr Richard Dafana while briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya MP, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu-PF) during a familiarisation tour at the plant in Harare.

Dr Dafana said most agricultural firms had been affected by low demand owing to limited disposable income by most farmers due to economic challenges.

“Outside Government orders like Command Agriculture and Presidential Inputs Scheme where there are crops like the maize, soya and cotton, there is weak demand for products and that affected companies from going forward. 

“If there is weak demand, you end up with these problems. The biggest scheme is the Presidential Input Scheme which requires about 170 000 tonnes of fertiliser (per year). 

“If you are not playing in that scheme, then you are out of the game,” said Dr Dafana.

He expressed concern about his firm’s “surprise” exclusion from participating in this year’s Presidential Input Scheme, something he said would see them stockpiling some of their products owing to subdued demand.

“We have knocked at the door of every Government office to find out why we were excluded but we did not get any explanation,” said Dr Dafana.

However, he said one of their competitors who traditionally had not been participating, was included for this year.

Dr Dafana said as a Government-owned entity, it was prudent for them to be considered as part of deliberate efforts by the State to support one of its own firms.

“We have never failed to deliver any order that we were given. We want preference in Government contracts. We are not crybabies; let us compete fairly, we want a fair opportunity. Also being a Government entity, there must be some merit in considering us,” said Dr Dafana.

He was responding to inquiries from legislators led by Cde Wadyajena on why they thought they had been excluded.

Dr Dafana implored legislators to help the firm to mobilise resources to raise about US$23 million to offset a debt that has seen some raw materials held under collateral management agreement.

The Meteorologcial Services Department has said the first half of the season will receive normal rains with a bias towards above normal, while the second half will receive normal rains with a bias towards below normal.

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