Cabinet defied on Amta procurement

10 January 2020 | Agriculture

Only the military and police are procuring their consumables through the Agro-Marketing and Trading Agency (Amta) as per a 2014 cabinet directive that sought to boost the local agribusiness by requiring all government agencies to source such products through the state-owned company.

This was confirmed by Amta managing director Lungameni Lucas yesterday. As Namibian farmers prepare for the 2020 cultivating season, crop producers in the northern communal areas (NCA) have not yet received any communication from Amta about orders placed by government institutions.

This means that despite the cabinet order, crop producers in the NCA will continue facing substantial risks, as there is no formal market for them.

In 2014 cabinet directed that all government offices, ministries and agencies should source their produce from local producers and suppliers through Amta's national hubs.

Sylvanus Naunyango, the chairperson of the Olushandja Farmers Association, a group of private small-scale farmers at the Olushandja Dam in the Omusati Region, says they are ready to meet the government demand, but until now they have not received any notification from Amta.

“We were in full support of the government idea for the [public institutions] to procure their food items through Amta because this creates an opportunity for our products to get access to the market.

“Until today we did not receive consumption demand for us to do our cropping programme, to enable us to satisfy the market. We need to be informed early enough so that we can start preparing and avoid failing the government,” Naunyango says.

“We do not just want to be informed that next week we must start supplying already while we are not ready. This was a good idea, but it is still useless, because our produce can still not get into the market because the [institutions'] catering companies were not sourcing their produce through Amta.”

Only the defence and safety ministries have come on board. The rest of the government agencies have not yet shown interest in procuring their fresh produce through the troubled parastatal.

Amta managing director Lungameni Lucas yesterday confirmed to Namibian Sun that so far only the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) was sourcing fruit and vegetables for military bases from Amta.

The ministry of safety and security and the police have been procuring fruit and vegetables from Amta, but their cooperation is yet to be formalised.

“We are still waiting for others to comply with the cabinet directive. This can only work well if the ministries commit to this. They need to provide us with lists of what they consume and the quantity so that we can liaise with the farmers,” Lucas said.

“We do not want them to just tell us that they need produce while the farmers are not ready or they do not have anything.”

The 2014 cabinet resolution directed government ministries to make sure that all their institutions consume products from the regions where they are situated.

On 26 February last year, finance minister Calle 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 must specify in their tenders that entities bidding for any catering contract must source meat, fresh produce, cereal and flour from local producers.

However, Amta continues to struggle to get support.

Last year the poverty eradication ministry declined to buy maize meal for its food bank programme from Amta, saying it was unaffordable.

Food bank items are being sourced from retailers.


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