Golden Sibanda in NYANGA
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has come up with a nine-point plan to help Government revive agri-business while a committee to lobby against the illegal sanctions has also been set up.
Addressing the Institute of Bankers of Zimbabwe 44th Summer Banking School in Nyanga CZI vice president Mr Henry Nemaire said the nine-point plan has already been submitted to Government.
Presenting a paper titled “Reinvigorating the Manufacturing Sector to Address High Unemployment Levels”, Mr Nemaire said the plan to revive agri-business was adopted as part of CZI’s resolutions at its congress in Bulawayo two weeks ago.
The plan calls for a paradigm shift in agri-business to produce food and create employment in view of declining production of strategic crops.
Wheat production is almost at zero from a peak of 310 000 metric tonnes in 2001 with deficit on maize estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation at one million metric tonnes. Maize is the country’s staple food while wheat is also an essential cereal.
To that end CZI said there was need for closure on compensation for former white farmers. He added that the United Kingdom, US or European countries would be engaged to put money into a fund to facilitate the compensation in the spirit of pledges made at Lancaster House in 1979 while at the same time the industry representative body will also lobby for the removal of sanctions.
The other option to bring finality to the white farmers’ compensation, the CZI said, would be to go with the Commercial Farmers’ Union proposal of bonds for US$4 billion.
CZI says there is also need to issue new banking sector compliant 99-year leases to new farmers who occupied and are developing new farms with 131 having been issued out of 276 600.
The manufacturing industries representative body also proposed extending the probation period for farmers who have occupied but have not developed allocated farms due to lack of funding.
The lobby group said farms allocated but not occupied should be reallocated to serious farmers while all farmers issued with 99-year leases should be allowed to engage in full-scale commercial farming activities through employing and going into joint ventures or partnerships of choice in line with the law, but without political restrictions.
CZI wants corporate farms or estates previously designated but not acquired to be delisted and title deeds restored to strengthen outgrower/contract farming.
Mr Nemaire said Green Fuel had indicated that 10 000 hectares can be developed, Tongaat Hulett had huge outgrower potential as 65 percent of sugar cane production is financed under outgrower schemes, but this requires land collateral to access funding from financiers.
He also said there was need to make pre-season announcement of floor prices to encourage farmers to go into the fields.
Commenting on the economic environment, he said after noting the adverse impact of sanctions on business and the economy in general, a CZI engagement committee will be established at national level to lobby the West to lift the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
CZI said labour laws were an impediment to productivity and competitiveness of industry. As such, the lobby group wants flexibility for the rightsizing of struggling companies. The industrial grouping also wants porous borders, especially with South Africa, plugged and trade agreements reviewed while tariffs should be effected to protect industry.
Focus should also be put on resuscitation of ZimSteel and other vulnerable but strategic industries such as clothing and textiles, leather and allied industries, engineering, chemical manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, timber and furniture fast moving consumer goods with a view to reduce the trade deficit.