The Sunday Mail
VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa, who chairs the Cabinet Cluster on Food Security and Nutrition, will headline the inaugural Maize Value Chain Conference in Harare on Friday.
The conference is the brainchild of Buy Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society.
Buy Zimbabwe is a private lobby group and ZAS is a 122-year-old member-based organisation whose drive is to promote growth in the agricultural sector.
Event organisers said last week, “This conference will bring together key business leaders and stakeholders along the maize value chain, policy and Government officials to discuss critical issues relevant to the strengthening of the maize value chain under the theme ‘Sustaining a competitive and inclusive maize value chain: Fundamentals of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development.”
Maize output is forecast to top two million tonnes for the first time since 2000 after Government centrally planned and spearheaded production through the Command Agriculture programme.
Guaranteeing food security and producing surplus grain will have a multiplier effect on the economy as most industries are agro-based, and a bumper harvest will also rule out the need to spend on staple maize imports.
An estimated 150 delegates from the public and private sector – among them Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, and his Industry and Commerce counterpart Dr Mike Bimha – will attend the conference.
Discussions will mainly focus on the policy and the regulatory environment; finance and inputs; production and productivity; transport, logistics and storage; markets, market linkages and pricing dynamics; and industrial and economic growth.
“Although impediments exist, including perceived market distortions, there is an increasing consensus that a value chain approach to solving these problems, instead of the disjointed and often perfunctory approaches of the past, must be adopted urgently,” added the organisers in their statement.
Last year Zimbabwe spent more than US$200 million on maize imports from Zambia, Tanzania and Brazil after output was blighted by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which resulted in lower-than-normal rains.