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Government to re-establish agriculture boards, says Made

Government to re-establish agriculture boards, says Made

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister,  Joseph Made

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Joseph Made

By Nyasha Chingono

GOVERNMENT is planning to re-establish agricultural boards, a move likely to result in the restoration of controls that had ended with liberalisation of the economy in the late 1990s.
Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Joseph Made, said the boards would control marketing of agricultural products and stem smuggling of inputs under the Presidential Input Scheme.
“Soon, we will be establishing the Cotton Marketing Board (CMB) and that board is not to be confused with the Cotton Marketing Company of Zimbabwe. There will be several other marketing boards that would be re-established, that is the Dairy Marketing Board (DMB) and the Cold Storage Commission (CSC),” said Made during an agribusiness conference held in the capital last week.
The CMB, DMB and CSC were either privatised or commercialised into under reforms embarked upon by government to open the economy to investment in the 1990s.
DMB is now Dairibord, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firm, while the CSC was commercialised to become the Cold Storage Company, whose business has been ruined by mismanagement and under-capitalisation.
CMB transmuted into the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco), which became the largest cotton processing and marketing organisation in southern Africa before it encountered financial difficulties a few years ago.
Made accused private companies of side marketing and smuggling agricultural produce out of the country, especially cotton, prejudicing the State of millions of dollars.
Made said individuals under the Presidential Input Scheme were defrauding the State of cotton meant for farming operations but which was being smuggled to regional countries.
Made warned that cotton could soon be regulated by his office in a bid to stop parallel marketing.
“A very disturbing feature under the Presidential input scheme is cotton that is being sold outside the country.
“That is illegal and we are going to look into that. We are going to put necessary instruments and that might include invoking the Minister of Agriculture to control cotton,” said Made.
“Don’t be surprised if that happens because we cannot afford as a State to have this kind of behaviour. We are obligated to nip this in the bud, especially in the sub region,” he said.
Currently, about 400 000 households have received support for cotton farming under the Presidential Input Scheme; each household is expected to grow a hectare each in areas which traditionally produce cotton.
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