The Zimbabwe Independent

AMA moves towards Vision 2030


e Agricultur­al Marketing Authority (AMA) completed a restructur­ing process early this year and has recently introduced an online permit applicatio­n system as it seeks to conclude an ongoing transforma­tion from being a collector of levies to a driver of innovation within the agricultur­al sector. In the context of these seismic changes, our senior business reporter Melody Chikono (MC) this week spoke to AMA CE Clever Isaya (CI, pictured) who says the transforma­tion journey has been an exciting one and that the authority is currently revisiting several legislatio­ns that govern production and marketing of crops that are susceptibl­e to side marketing. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

MC: You are mandated with the overall regulation of the production, marketing and processing of agricultur­al products in Zimbabwe. Can you take us through the journey you have travelled so far in terms of trying to achieve your mandate.

CI: It has been an exciting journey so far; the first step was to re-configure the Authority to become an effective regulator and developmen­t partner for agricultur­al growth in Zimbabwe. As you might be aware, in the past AMA was known more as a “revenue collector” than a progressiv­e regulator.

My immediate task was to remodel the Authority into a key player in the transforma­tion of our agricultur­e sector. I’m happy with the progress we have made to date in terms of transformi­ng the Authority and the positive feedback that we are receiving from our stakeholde­rs. Central to our transforma­tion is the adoption of new broad-based policies and regulation­s that enhance the competitiv­eness of our agricultur­e sector.

We have also taken a deliberate approach to use technology and digital solutions as key drivers of our transforma­tive journey.

More importantl­y, our parent ministry, the Ministry of Lands, Agricultur­e, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettleme­nt has been very supportive in terms of giving support and guidance towards implementa­tion of our strategy. is has made the task a whole lot easier.

MC: Issues of side marketing in agricultur­e have also been rampant in the sector. How are you tackling this?

CI: We are revisiting several legislatio­ns that govern production and marketing of crops that are susceptibl­e to side marketing with the aim of making them watertight. e recent introducti­on of Statutory Instrument 96 of 2021 (Control of Sale of Cotton) is one such move that is aimed at curbing side marketing. In addition, our current contract production and marketing models are overdue for review and in some instances there are actually non-existent.

We are now working flat out to make sure that we have effective regulation­s in place, we are also enhancing our capacity to enforce regulation­s and introducin­g deterrent penalties for those caught on the wrong side of the law. Decentrali­sation of buying and selling points, ensuring farmers are paid on time is also key in dealing with side marketing menace.

MC: e authority has also been accused of being reluctant when it comes to enforcing effective deterrent penalties resulting in total chaos in the marketing of cotton. is has been attributed to the failure of the cotton industry between 2012 and 2015. What is your comment and what should we expect going forward ?.

CI: e introducti­on of a raft of changes in regulation­s governing the production and marketing of cotton is a clear demonstrat­ion of our commitment to bringing order in the cotton sector. Going forward, you will see a lot of changes in the model as it will become stricter across all key touch points. Late disburseme­nts of inputs, late payments to farmers, side marketing are some of the ills that we are going to deal with decisively in the next season.

MC: ere has also been a call for policies that encourage ease of doing business. What are you doing on this front?

CI: As a regulator, we participat­e in several points in the agricultur­al value chains. is includes registrati­on of farmers, buyers and sellers as well as ensuring farmers are paid a fair price for their produce and on time. So we are working round the clock so that these processes are simplified in addition to pushing for various policy reforms in agri-markets. You will start to see establishm­ent of functional markets across all the regions of Zimbabwe.

MC: You recently launched an online permit applicatio­n system. What other new innovation­s do you have in the pipeline.?

CI: I’m happy to let you know that we have lined up a number of exciting new digital market innovation­s to enhance the competitiv­eness of our agricultur­e sector. We will be launching an e-market platform for agricultur­al commoditie­s soon. We envisage that the platform will make it easier for farmers to access a fully functional market for their produce. In the past market access has been a major challenge for our farmers. Other digital applicatio­ns that we are going to introduce are on markets, commodity prices, demand forecastin­g, informatio­n disseminat­ion and general agro-market trends.

MC: Do you think the sector is ready for technologi­cal overhaul?

CI: Definitely. If you look at the National Developmen­t Strategy 1, one of its focus areas is to modernise the economy through the use of ICTs and digital technology. Agricultur­e was identified as one of the major anchors for economic recovery and as such accelerate­d adoption of technologi­es is central to the delivery and success of the Agricultur­al and Food Systems Transforma­tion Strategy.

MC: Going forward, what is the outlook for AMA.

CI: You will see AMA playing a central role in the transforma­tion of agricultur­e in Zimbabwe. Markets, market developmen­t, market access, market infrastruc­ture and creation of an enabling regulatory environmen­t will be the major focus areas for AMA as we move towards attainment of Vision 2030.

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