Govt, private sector must find each other – Irvine’s

Harare Bureau

IRVINE’S Zimbabwe has called for more Government and private sector engagement to create strong synergies that will confront productivity challenges bedevilling the economy.

Irvine’s chief executive officer David Irvine, revealed this on the sidelines of the chicken breeder’s plant tour by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sekesai Nzenza on Monday.

These sentiments come at a time when the country’s largest protein producer is spending in excess of $45 million on the importation of soya meal and maize among other production essentials.

This is highly an unsustainable figure for a business given the obtaining deficiency of foreign currency in Zimbabwe.

Irvine’s is currently exporting less than 10 percent of its output monthly, which falls short of the monthly required foreign currency.

Critically, Mr Irvine is lobbying for more private sector involvement in agriculture out — grower schemes to curb the menacing import bill particularly with regards to basic cereals such as maize, wheat and soya.

He insinuated that the private sector is so vibrant that if Government collaborates with it ,some of the production challenges could be solved immediately.

Imports have been weighing heavily on the fiscus lately, a position that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya has repeatedly censured, calling for more efforts to be directed towards resuscitation of production to curb the country’s import bill.

According to Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) the country imported goods and services worth US$4,45 billion against exports of US$3,98 billion between February and December 2019.

Mr Irvine said: “I just want to emphasise that the private sector in this country is vibrant, just make use of it, talk to us see where our problems are and we can help each other develop this country, we need both parties to talk.”

As part of the efforts to seek more engagement with Government about the issue at hand Mr Irvine indicated he will soon be seeking audience with the agriculture minister to come up with yielding solution and substitute the procurement of the said raw materials out of the country.

“The biggest absorber of foreign currency in this company is the feed mill, soya meal the maize and some other ingredients.

“. . . so I am going to talk to the minister and see how we can organise contract growing using the private sector, we can get the resources if we can get the right people on the ground, we can grow maize the way we have done it before ,” he said.

The touring Minister Nzenza, however, highlighted that the government was round the clock to reduce some of the operational challenges being faced by the industry.

“Private sector is talking to Government, we have a round table where we are interrogating some of the issues being faced by the industry and make sure that the ease of doing business actually works,” Minister Nzenza said.

Zimbabwe has lately been procuring a bigger proportion of its maize imports from South Africa, which according to the United States Department of Agriculture, has 1,2 million tonnes of maize for export markets in the 2019/2020 season.

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