Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
BUY Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) have organised a maize value chain conference in a bid to ensure players in the agricultural sector optimise the cereal’s economic benefits in the wake of anticipated improved yields this year.
The conference will be held at ZAS’ Exhibition Park on 21 April under the theme: “Sustaining a competitive and inclusive maize value chain”.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be the guest of honour. ZAS chief executive officer Dr Anxious Masuka said the conference would bring together key business leaders, stakeholders and Government officials with a view of discussing critical issues relevant to the strengthening of the maize value chain.
“Zimbabwe and the larger part of southern Africa, have generally enjoyed good rains and there is a prediction of a better agricultural season, with attendant increased maize harvests and perhaps the assurance of food security for the region. In Zimbabwe, various complementary private efforts have been boosted by the Government’s massive Command Agriculture programme. So there is measured excitement for a deserved bumper maize harvest.
“Debate, discussion and attention have therefore, naturally immediately shifted to maize logistics, storage, markets and consumers and, in the short term, to whether a robust framework for a winning maize production formula has finally been found and whether this can be sustained so that Zimbabwe’s quantum leap into the food security territory can be sustained.
There are clearly pertinent issues regarding the sustenance of this level of production and productivity that deserve urgent further scrutiny,” said Dr Masuka.
He said among various constraints to the attainment of national food security over the years have been low productivity, poor financing and high costs of production.
“A value chain approach to strengthening and sustaining maize production is critical for the long term sustenance of the country’s food security. 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. This is the emerging consensus on the plausibility of the approaches to reversing this perennially insalubrious national food security situation,” said Dr Masuka.
He said maize was important for agricultural transformation, intraregional trade, regional integration and food security.
“Maize can serve multiple market outlets (food, feed and industrial applications) with significant opportunities for expansion and agro-processing and attendant value addition and beneficiation, leading to further industrialisation and socio-economic development,” said Dr Masuka.
The conference is going to focus on policy and regulatory environment, finance and inputs, production and productivity, transport, logistics and storage, markets, market linkages and pricing dynamics as well as industrial and economic growth.
“Markets and market linkages should appropriately dominate discussion and discourse and perhaps shape the form, content and outcome of the national interventions. These discussions will take the format of the “Produce Zimbabwe: Feed Zimbabwe” Leadership for Enhanced Agricultural Development Series discussions previously hosted by the ZAS, to focus attention on pertinent issues and hasten the synthesis and distillation of the more pertinent issues for sustaining the maize vale chain,” said Dr Masuka.
He said the conference should lay a platform for agricultural value chains to play a part in the turnaround of the country’s economy.
“It is expected that the conference will generate important data, facts, proposals, resolutions and key information necessary to achieve Zimbabwe’s food self-sufficiency into the future. Lessons from this conference could inform other agricultural value chains to accelerate economic development,” said Dr Masuka.