via Low FDI alarms government — Mphoko – Southern Eye 23 August 2015 by Mthandazo Nyoni
The government of Zimbabwe is alarmed by the lack of investment in the food processing industry, vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has said.
“Government is concerned about the declining investment in the distressed food processing companies. This is destabilising our economy in several respects,”Mphoko said in a speech read on his behalf by permanent secretary in his office Thabani Ndlovu at the Zimbabwe Food Conference and expo in Bulawayo on Friday.
He said such a scenario had a negative effect on the country’s agricultural sector as demand for farm produce declined and eventually translated into job losses.
The VP said government however remained committed to the recovery of agriculture, especially crop and livestock farming.
He said there was need for the private sector to continue to answer to government calls for self-sufficiency in the production of food in Zimbabwe as enunciated in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Sustainable economic transformation
“This is key in, inter alia, reducing the import bill and re-correcting the country’s national current account,” he said.
Mphoko said government and private sector needed to work together to contain inflammatory pressures of food products, especially basic commodities such as meat, maize-meal, bread and others.
He urged businesses to address the issue of contract farming on both livestock and crops. On roles of parastatals in agriculture recovery,Mphoko said he would like to see serious objective analysis and dialogue.
“We do not need an ideological debate on whether or not parastatals are good. rather, I need concrete recommendations on what parastatals need to do to accelerate the recovery of agriculture and the food sector. I need that kind of analysis especially with focus on Grain marketing Board, Arda [Agricultural and Rural Development Authority], Cold Storage Company and Agricultural marketing Authority,” he said.
The conference, which ended yesterday, focused on harnessing opportunities for food processing firms in the country, as well as highlighting opportunities for local food processing companies arising from the imminent food shortages.
Participants also deliberated on driving towards national self-sustenance as well as the recovery of livestock farming in Matabeleland, among other topical issues surrounding food security.
The first edition of the conference and expo was held in Harare last month and the third one is expected to be held in Gweru on a date to be advised.