Fail­ure to reg­u­larise op­er­a­tions im­pacts neg­a­tively on Jaspro

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Fair­ness Moy­ana re­cently in Jam­bezi

FAIL­URE to reg­u­larise op­er­a­tions with the Stan­dards As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe (SAZ) is af­fect­ing Jam­bezi Small Grains Seed Pro­duc­ers’ (Jaspro) abil­ity to pen­e­trate larger mar­kets to sell their pro­duce.

Jaspro, a com­mu­nity owned and run com­pany was com­mis­sioned in 2014 but has since then failed to yield the ex­pected re­sults mostly be­cause of lack of fund­ing to reg­is­ter its op­er­a­tions with SAZ.

The set­back has re­sulted in re­tail­ers shun­ning the com­pany’s pro­duce cit­ing fears over their fail­ure to dis­play ex­piry dates on its mil­let and sorghum prod­ucts. A 5kg bag of mil­let costs $4.65 while sorghum is pegged at $4.85.

In an in­ter­view, Jam­bezi ward coun­cil­lor, Bin­well Sibanda said the ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of their op­er­a­tions by reg­is­ter­ing with prod­uct reg­u­la­tor SAZ was se­ri­ously af­fect­ing the take-off of the pro­ject at large scale.

“Ini­tially when we started this pro­ject it was for small grain pro­duc­ers of sorghum and mil­let among other va­ri­eties de­pend­ing on avail­abil­ity. De­pend­ing on the amount of grain pro­duced the ex­cess was ex­tended to milling and pack­ag­ing for sale. How­ever, we have been un­able to do mass pro­duc­tion be­cause of is­sues, which in­clude reg­is­ter­ing our prod­ucts with SAZ,” said Clr Sibanda.

He said the sit­u­a­tion has made re­tail­ers and busi­nesses to shun the pro­ject’s prod­ucts since they do not dis­play ex­piry dates.

Clr Sibanda said although milling was be­ing done at low lev­els the SAZ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is­sue was se­ri­ously af­fect­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion of the full po­ten­tial of the pro­gramme as the pro­ject was strug­gling to stand on firm ground as a re­sult of low busi­ness.

“We should be reg­is­tered with SAZ so that if we mill our prod­ucts would be bear­ing the shelf life tag but with us it is a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion. Un­for­tu­nately we are not reg­is­tered with SAZ. We are try­ing by all means to en­gage part­ners and stake­hold­ers that we work with to link us up with other peo­ple to en­able the reg­is­tra­tion of the pro­duce.”

Clr Sibanda said they were also work­ing on pro­fes­sion­al­is­ing the com­pany’s op­er­a­tions by en­gag­ing qual­i­fied per­son­nel to run their ac­counts and mar­ket the prod­ucts.

“We have a se­ri­ous deficit in the knowl­edge on how to ef­fec­tively op­er­ate and seek new mar­kets as we do not have money to pay per­son­nel. This has forced us to con­tinue us­ing the com­mit­tee that was re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion phase of the pro­ject and are no longer rel­e­vant. What we are say­ing is we want to run pro­fes­sion­ally, we want to hire skilled labour and have some­one to mind the books and mar­ket our prod­ucts,” he said.

The pro­ject op­er­ates from a large ware­house and a fully equipped farm­house with milling ma­chin­ery, store­rooms, a sales hall, pack­ag­ing and milling fa­cil­i­ties.

The in­fra­struc­ture was funded by the Euro­pean Union through the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of re­lief agency, COSV Zim­babwe.

The as­so­ci­a­tion’s chair­per­son, Mr Philip Tshuma said the fa­cil­ity had the po­ten­tial to pro­duce com­mer­cially.

“Once the con­tentious is­sue of reg­is­ter­ing with SAZ is out of the way and mar­kets have been se­cured we are able to go to mass pro­duc­tion of our prod­ucts. We do not have spe­cific fig­ures be­cause we drew a les­son from our first trial where we milled five tonnes com­pris­ing of pearl mil­let and sorghum but failed to get quick re­turns be­cause of the time it took to sell the prod­ucts.

“This re­sulted in fail­ure to pay farm­ers who had sold their grain to us. So we agreed that we would mill as per de­mand, how­ever, we are ready to ven­ture into mass pro­duc­tion,” he said.

Mean­while, the com­pany has re­sorted to rent­ing out some of the store­rooms, which are not be­ing utilised be­cause of the low pro­duc­tion to gen­er­ate in­come to set­tling some bills such as elec­tric­ity.

In 2014 17 fam­i­lies and farm­ers came to­gether and formed the Jam­bezi Small Grain Seed Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in an ef­fort to add value to small grains by milling and pack­ag­ing them to fetch bet­ter prices. The pro­ject sought to ad­dress food and nu­tri­tion in­se­cu­rity chal­lenges faced by vul­ner­a­ble house­holds.

It was also meant to help house­holds in the drought stricken district to broaden their eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties away from mono­cul­ture maize pro­duc­tion and neg­a­tive liveli­hood cop­ing mech­a­nisms by seek­ing a more di­ver­si­fied range of food and in­come sources.

Jam­bezi vil­lagers, with as­sis­tance from Agri­tex and In­ter­na­tional Crops Re­search In­sti­tute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) have in­ten­si­fied calls for com­mu­ni­ties to em­brace small grains as an adap­tive method to cli­mate change and drought.

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