Private partnerships in food security drive hailed

The private sector has been critical in complementing Government efforts in the grain value chain to ensure that the nation remains food secure, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said yesterday.

Participation and mainstreaming of the private sector has been identified as crucial in economic development and transformation of the industry. Government is determined to transform agricultural systems to contribute positively towards Vision 2030 with food security ensured through efficiently producing enough food crops.

Last season the country produced 3 million tonnes of grains.

Speaking during a tour of National Foods in Harare yesterday, Deputy Minister Haritatos said National Foods was one of the companies that was contributing positively to the agricultural sector. He said the organisation’s complementary work was producing enough maize-meal to cater for the whole country.

The company invested US$40 million into operations over the past three years, indicating great confidence in the country.

“We have ongoing programmes complemented by the private sector. Last week there was an outcry over maize-meal. We want stability of prices, affordable and quality products to the people. We are already seeing normalisation of the market. We want the public to be comfortable. Our millers are working hard. We have no challenges of maize-meal as you can see.

“We have plenty of maize at GMB. We are also importing more maize. We are still meeting with millers and finding out if there are challenges so that we intervene. We have no grain problems in Zimbabwe. Millers and GMB have enough stocks. We are working together very well with millers and there is nothing to worry about at the moment.

“There is no hunger, these private sectors are complementing what the Government is doing. We want to ensure that there is no hunger so we encourage our farmers to import,” he said.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri also indicated that the company was making huge investments in agriculture, adding that this shows confidence and motivates workers.

“We have seen great dedication from their work and definitely they are producing as much as they should. We advise the private sector to really work together with our Government programmes.

“The focus is the same. We want to produce enough food for the country so we need them to produce their raw materials so that the entire value is impacted. We have programmes which need the private sector to come in and participate to cooperate with the Government so that we work together for the development of our country,” he said.

Prof Jiri said irrigation infrastructure had to be developed so that the country maximised its production, adding that the country has over 10 700 water bodies that should be used wisely to ensure the growth of the sector.

National Foods chief executive Michael Lashbrook assured the Government of its commitment to complementing its efforts in developing a more robust agricultural sector.

“As a group, our volumes are around 50 000 tonnes a month depending on the year. The biggest product is stock feeds, followed by flour and then maize-meal. The officials are here so that we can share the developments. We have invested around US$40 million in the company over the past three years.

“We work together in terms of understanding our demand. We take responsibility very seriously in terms of producing our products. We ensure that there is adequate supply,” he said.


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