Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Government has said plans are at an advanced stage towards the re-creation of marketing boards that will champion the reintroduction of Government monopoly in the trading of all agricultural products across the country.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made said individuals and companies intending to contract farmers should start doing so with the approval of his ministry.
He said the developments were a reaction to calls made by President Mugabe, who noted that some farmers were reportedly being driven out of their pieces of land by white farmers who convince them to sign unworkable contracts.
“We are now moving towards the reintroduction of the monopoly of Government in the trading of agriculture commodities,” he said. “Remember, we had boards such as the Cotton Marketing Board, Dairy Marketing Board, Cold Storage Commission, among others, which were disbanded during the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme.
“We are reintroducing them so as to oversee the trading of commodities in their respective genres. This will address the haphazard time of operations which our farmers are being subjected to.”
Minister Made said companies intending to buy agricultural commodities for further processing would now be buying from the boards.
“We are not stopping contract farming, if a company directly works with the farmer, give them adequate support, we don’t have a problem with that,” he said. “But these contracts would have been authorised by the Ministry of Agriculture so as to protect the farmer.”
Minister Made challenged farmers not enter into contracts with companies and individuals who had no authority from either the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement or the Ministry of Agriculture.