Millers appeal to VP over fortification

Source: Millers appeal to VP over fortification | The Herald July 6, 2017

Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
AGRO processors may be forced to rethink their commitment to channel $200 million towards the purchase of 800 000 tonnes of maize under Command Agriculture if the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa declines to defer mandatory food fortification.

This is because the agro processors may be forced to channel the resources which had been earmarked for Command Agriculture towards importation of fortification equipment and fortificants, The Herald Business heard yesterday.

As a result, the millers under the umbrella of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe have approached Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his capacity as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition and leader of Command Agriculture, one of the programmes under his purview.

The move by the millers may have an adverse effect on the architecture of the Command Agriculture Programme which Government has touted as a success.

In a letter to VP Mnangagwa dated July 3 Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Tafadzwa Musarara requested that mandatory fortification be deferred until certain conditions have been met.

The conditions include the establishment of local manufacturing of food fortificants and food dossier machinery, crafting of an effective fortification operation plan that will precisely deliver to affected population segments and comprehensive training of milling laboratory staff in pre-production testing and production application.

The millers also said before mandatory fortification is effected there must be extensive and nationwide engagement of consumers and all other key stakeholders on the subject and indemnification of participating millers against any arising lawsuit consequent to application of fortificants.

“We are, most importantly, worried that this mandatory fortification exercise, which is fatally coinciding with the commencement of the funding of $200 million by millers of maize grown under the Command Agriculture programme, will dissuade my members to extend the funds and consequently prejudicing farmers and the general architecture of the Command Agriculture Programme,” said Mr Musarara.

The letter was copied to Dr Parirenyatwa, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha, the Chief Secretary in the Office of The President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and his Deputy Justin Mupamhanga who is Chairman of the Command Agriculture Programme National Taskforce.

The millers, who last month appealed to Dr Bimha said in his response to their presentation, Minister Parirenyatwa’s response was “intransigent and adamant” insisting that the mandatory fortification starts July 1.

In his response to the millers dated June 6, Dr Parirenyatwa declined the request for deferment of mandatory fortification saying that preparations for the programme were initiated as early as 2013 through wide consultations.

“The industry including your association as GMAZ have been participating in national Food Fortification stakeholders meetings involving development of standards, development of relevant regulations and statutes and engaging with community leaders and consumers.

‘‘We have provided adequate time for the industry to prepare for the mandatory food fortification and provided technical support in training industry stuff, assisting industries in identifying the right equipment,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

“The Ministry with support from development partners have invested a lot in this area and industries producing maize-meal, wheat flour, cooking oil and sugar received adequate support.”

The Health and Child Welfare minister said Government is very much sensitive to middle and small-scale industries who could be facing challenges in the current economic environment.