ZIMBABWE – The Agriculture Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe (AMA) is set to float US$50 million worth of agro bills for the purchase of maize from farmers in the 2019 marketing season.

The authority was established by the Government primarily to promote agricultural production of strategic crops such as sugar, soya beans, maize and barley as well as tobacco and cotton.

According to a report by the Herald, Nancy Zitsanza, chief executive officer of AMA, the bills will be targeted at securing necessary funding for sourcing maize from farmers.

Last year, AMA through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) floated US$75 million worth of agro bills which were fully subscribed.

“As AMA, we go out into the market to issue agro bills for the purpose of financing grain procurement through the GMB. Last year we did US$75 million and this year we are targeting to issue US$50 million.

“The agro bills have certain features, which they come with for purposes of attracting investors and we have started the process of seeking necessary approvals. Once we get the approval, we then go out into the market to issue the bills.

“The bills are mainly for local grain purchase to augment the efforts of Government to secure the necessary funding to pay farmers who deliver their grain to GMB.

“This is opposed to foreign purchases which will be required to augment the reduction in production because we are expecting reduced crops because of the drought,” she said.

The organisation is also mandated with promoting marketing and fair pricing of agricultural commodities and promoting contract farming through encouraging private sector participation.

In February this year, the African Development Bank (AfDB) injected a total of US$4.5 million to parastatals, including AMA, in the country aimed at revitalising their performance.

Other parastatals which are set to benefits from the funding included Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED), Agricultural and Rural Development Authority(ARDA), Pig Industry Board, National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC), Industrial Development Co-Operation (IDC) and GMB.

During its previous financial year, the marketing authority, recorded 26 percent growth in revenues to US$2.3 million supported by increased agricultural production.

“The financial performance for the period 31 December 2018 was good despite a challenging economic operating environment characterised by currency distortions,” said Barean Mukwende, AMA chairman during the last annual general meeting.

Net cash generated increased to US$1.3 million from US$1.1 million driven by a strong operating surplus.