AMA seeks to raise $75m

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Africa Moyo

THE un­der fire Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing Au­thor­ity (AMA) has floated $75 mil­lion agro-bills for the pur­chase of maize from farm­ers in the 2018 sea­son.

AMA, which re­cently came un­der at­tack from Gov­ern­ment and farm­ers for dere­lic­tion of duty, said the maize would be bought through the Grain Mar­ket­ing Board (GMB).

Said AMA in a state­ment: “The Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing (AMA) in­tends to is­sue AMA Bills of up to $75 mil­lion to fi­nance the pur­chase of maize grain for the 2018 buy­ing sea­son through the Grain Mar­ket­ing Board.

“CBZ Hold­ings Limited, as the fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor, hereby in­vites cor­po­rate and in­di­vid­ual in­vestors to sub­scribe to the AMA Bills. Ap­pli­ca­tions must be for a min­i­mum of $5 000 and in multiples of $5 000 there­after.”

The AMA Bills have a tenor of 360 days from the first day of al­lot­ment. In­ter­est rate is pegged at 7 per­cent per an­num. Of­fers for the bills opened yes­ter­day. The bills have spe­cial fea­tures which in­clude pre­scribed as­set sta­tus, liq­uid as­set sta­tus and tax ex­emp­tion sta­tus. Gov­ern­ment is the guar­an­tor for the bills. How­ever, some agri­cul­ture ex­perts yes­ter­day said while AMA was now liv­ing to its man­date, the move to raise funds now was fairly late given that most farm­ers had al­ready sold their grain to GMB.

The ex­perts said it was un­sur­pris­ing that Gov­ern­ment was keen to re­struc­ture the or­gan­i­sa­tion, to en­able it to re­solve the chal­lenges faced by farm­ers when mar­ket­ing their pro­duce.

Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa re­cently told the 6th An­nual Na­tional Agribusi­ness Con­fer­ence held con­cur­rently with the Harare Agri­cul­tural Show, that moves to re­struc­ture AMA were at an ad­vanced stage.

“My Gov­ern­ment will soon be re­struc­tur­ing the Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing Au­thor­ity (AMA) to make it more re­spon­sive to ad­dress these mar­ket­ing gaps within the sec­tor . . . and deal de­ci­sively with side mar­ket­ing.

“Go­ing for­ward, it will be equally im­por­tant to ad­dress the ex­port mar­ket for our agri­cul­tural pro­duce,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

Gov­ern­ment wants to re­struc­ture AMA given the new thrust where farm­ing must be seen as a busi­ness.

Vice Pres­i­dent Chi­wenga re­cently said one key as­pect that makes any busi­ness suc­cess­ful is the avail­abil­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of prop­erly func­tion­ing mar­kets.

Due to the ab­sence of many vi­able mar­kets in the coun­try, some farm­ers par­tic­u­larly in the hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tor whose prod­ucts have a short shelflife, lose po­ten­tial in­comes or end up sell­ing their pro­duce at ridicu­lously low prices to un­scrupu­lous mid­dle­men, just to sal­vage some money to feed fam­i­lies to re­turn to the fields.

Other farm­ers have aban­doned the grow­ing flow­ers due to lack of read­ily ac­ces­si­ble for­eign mar­kets and the fail­ure to meet the ex­pected qual­ity stan­dards.

AMA was set up by Gov­ern­ment pri­mar­ily to pro­mote agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion of strate­gic crops such as to­bacco, cot­ton, sugar, soya beans and bar­ley.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is also man­dated with pro­mot­ing mar­ket­ing and fair pric­ing of agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties and pro­mot­ing con­tract farm­ing through en­cour­ag­ing pri­vate sec­tor par­tic­i­pa­tion.

How­ever, there is con­sen­sus among play­ers in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor that AMA has dis­mally failed to rep­re­sent their in­ter­ests, es­pe­cially mar­ket­ing pro­duce, and should there­fore be re­struc­tured.

Last year, Gov­ern­ment, through the Cot­ton Com­pany of Zim­babwe (Cottco), in­vested $62 mil­lion to sup­port farm­ers but AMA is al­leged to have failed to shield farm­ers from ag­gres­sive, but un­scrupu­lous fly by night pri­vate play­ers who wanted to buy cot­ton whose grow­ing they didn’t spon­sor.

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