Amta 'expensive'

The beleaguered Agro-Marketing Trading Agency will soon find relief via the defence ministry.

12 July 2019 | Agriculture

The poverty eradication ministry declined to purchase maize meal from the Agro-Marketing Trading Agency (Amta), because it was unaffordable.

Ministry spokesperson Lot Ndamanomhata told Namibian Sun that before rolling out the food bank programme, it approached Amta to supply it with food products.

He said Amta could provide them with maize meal, which was declined because of the very high price.

Ndamanomhata was responding to enquires about how the poverty ministry was assisting to implement a cabinet resolution that calls on all government offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) to buy locally produced agricultural products and meat through Amta.

Amta, which has raised concerns about the fact that not all OMAs were cooperating, did not respond to allegations that it could not supply the poverty ministry with the food it wanted and that its maize meal was too expensive.

The defence ministry will, however, bring relief to Amta, as August 26 Logistics (A26L), which supplies food to all the country's army bases, is set to start procuring its food items through Amta.

On 25 March, agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb informed all OMAs about the implementation of the cabinet decision related to local procurement through Amta.

“We engaged Amta, we had a meeting with them and we gave them a list of items we put in the food bank parcels and asked them for quotations. When they came back to us, they could only provide us with maize meal, but it was expensive compared to what other providers offered,” Ndamanomhata said.

“Nevertheless, most of the items we offer in our parcels are locally produced, even though they are not sourced through Amta. We always request retailers who supply us to make sure that they pack in our parcels items that are produced in Namibia.”

The food bank programme distributes food to the most vulnerable and destitute Namibians on a monthly basis.

According to Ndamanomhata, the programme is currently operating in nine regions and by the end of the financial year it will be rolled out in all 14 regions of the country.

It was recently reported by Namibian Sun that Amta is struggling to get support from OMAs, following the implementation of a cabinet decision that they should procure all agricultural products locally through the agency.

Cabinet had also directed that all OMAs should include a qualification requirement in their food supply tender specifications, which stipulates that food supplied to government institutions must be sourced from local producers and suppliers, particularly from Amta's national fresh-produce hubs.

Ndamanomhata said the parcels they distribute through the food bank mostly consist of sugar, salt, canned beef, wheat, cooking oil and meal flour, which are all produced in Namibia. He said they always ensure that the packages are stamped with 'made in Namibia', but they cannot guarantee that everything is wholly locally produced.

Through a cabinet resolution, originally taken in 2014, OMAs were requested to make sure that all their institutions consume products from the regions where they are situated.

On 26 February, Schlettwein wrote to all ministers, governors, town mayors, board chairpersons and executive directors, informing them that in terms of section 73 of the Public Procurement Act of 2015, all public entities are directed to include specific provisions in their tender specifications to ensure that entities wanting to bid for any catering contract for the provision of food shall source meat, fresh produce, cereal and flour from local producers.

Defence ministry spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Petrus Shilumbu, said their catering company, A26L, submitted an action plan to the executive director of their ministry on 11 February, which was crafted and prepared in collaboration with Amta and the agriculture ministry.

“Based on that action plan, A26L took the second step and led in implementing the resolutions of the second national land conference and presidential directives by inviting and hosting a consultative meeting with all the relevant stakeholders on 8 March 2019. The consultative meeting was held at the headquarters of A26L and it was well-attended by 30 participants,” said Shilumbu.

“Local diversification is one of the areas A26L has embarked upon, in order to gradually level the business opportunities for all prospective resident suppliers in the country. The A26L is thus in the process of enlarging and varying the company range of products and field of operation.”

Shilumbu said the defence ministry is confident that it is well on track to meet the deadlines, as per the action plan. He said A26L has already awarded the supply contracts to poultry producers and processors. The expected start of the supply is 1 August.

Amta got rid of private trading agents at its Rundu and Ongwediva fresh-produce hubs, leaving employees with nothing to do.

Its spokesperson Meke Namindo did not respond to questions sent.


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