Zim­plow seeks prod­ucts pro­tec­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Bianca Mlilo Busi­ness Re­porter

FARM im­ple­ments man­u­fac­turer Zim­plow Lim­ited is lob­by­ing the Gov­ern­ment to in­clude agri­cul­tural equip­ment and ma­chin­ery un­der the Statu­tory In­stru­ment (S.I) 64 of 2016 to pro­tect it from cheaper im­ports.

Zim­plow is the largest man­u­fac­turer and dis­trib­u­tor of farm­ing im­ple­ments in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and also man­u­fac­tures and dis­trib­utes metal fas­ten­ers for the min­ing, con­struc­tion and agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries.

Mr Wal­ter Chig­wada, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Mealie Brand (a divi­sion of Zim­plow Hold­ings) in Bu­l­awayo, told In­dus­try and Com­merce Min­is­ter Mike Bimha dur­ing a tour of in­dus­tries in the city that his com­pany has fallen vic­tim to cheaper im­ports.

“We came out of 2015 with the El Nino ef­fect and the col­lapse of re­gional cur­ren­cies around us and we now com­pete in the export mar­ket. We had a lot of stock we could sell but which re­cently started mov­ing due to mea­sures we have cur­rently put in place,” said Mr Chig­wada.

“All I’m sure of is we re­ally need to have a statu­tory in­stru­ment pro­tec­tion. Our prod­ucts un­for­tu­nately are not on the S.I.”

The Gov­ern­ment re­cently pro­mul­gated S.I 64 of 2016, which pro­hibits open gen­eral im­por­ta­tion of a range of prod­ucts that are man­u­fac­tured lo­cally.

Among th­ese are pro­cessed foods, build­ing, fur­ni­ture, per­sonal care and hard­ware prod­ucts.

As a re­sult of the in­flux of cheaper fin­ished goods, he said, they had un­der­taken five ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion ex­er­cises to do away with non-core staff and had spent a to­tal in ex­cess of $66 000 to pro­tect their brand.

Mr Chig­wada said their ma­jor chal­lenge was the loss of mar­ket share. Their ploughs, he added, cost $58 each, while the im­ported ones are pegged at $35, equiv­a­lent to the cost of raw ma­te­ri­als to them.

“The peo­ple we’re com­pet­ing with, es­pe­cially from China, just copy our de­signs and man­u­fac­ture the stuff and bring them into our mar­ket. They have vi­o­lated our patent rights by bring­ing the same prod­ucts into our mar­kets,” he said.

Mr Chig­wada said the go­ing had not been easy for them as they had not man­aged to pro­duce a third of their nor­mal quan­ti­ties.

“We’ve only pro­duced 7 000 im­ple­ments so far but we should have done about 26 000 at this time,” he said.

Zim­pa­pers Bu­l­awayo branch Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Man­ager Mr Martin Sibanda gives an over­view of the group port­fo­lio at the on­go­ing CZI con­fer­ence at a Bu­l­awayo ho­tel yes­ter­day

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