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-The Herald

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), plans to raise $20 billion through agro-bills to finance the purchase of grain for the 2021 marketing season.

The procurement will be done through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

The initiative is part of the authority’s mandate of sourcing working capital funds to support production and marketing of agricultural products.

Estimates have indicated a bumper harvest with deliveries expected to be over 2 million metric tonnes of maize and over 300 000 tonnes of traditional grains.

The early disbursement of payments is in line with a commitment made by Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka that payments will be made within 72 hours after grains have been delivered to GMB Depot or five days after delivering to buying points.

AMA chief executive Mr Clever Isaya, reiterated that floating the agro-bills is aimed at raising funds for procurement of grain and ensuring that farmers are paid on time.

Early payments will enable farmers to prepare early for the upcoming winter wheat planting season.

“AMA will continue to source funds for other sub-sectors to complement government efforts in availing funds for procurement of strategic commodities.”

The bills which will be issued through CBZ bank are in the final stages of approval.

Going forward, Mr Isaya said AMA will take a proactive role in securing funds for procurement for produce ahead of marketing season to avoid payment delays that have been experienced past.

AMA was set up by Government primarily to promote agricultural production of strategic crops such as tobacco, cotton, sugar, soya beans, maize and barley.

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

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