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Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency absorbs all other agricultural boards

By Freeman Ngulu.

[email protected]

The Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) will eventually take over all functions of the Namibia Agronomic Board, and it will get involved in the marketing of livestock.

Talking to the Economist this week, the AMTA Managing Director, Lugameni Lucas said the shift in mandate form the Agronomic Board to AMTA is yet to be put on paper but provisions have been made for a smooth transition as AMTA takes over the board’s implementing powers.

Lucas, said the Agronomic Industry Act will make provision for the separation of the two organisations as AMTA will automatically canabalise other organisations such as the Meat Board.

AMTA’s own staff complement is growing as it enforces border control for the importation of fresh produce while easing the exportation of grapes from Aussenker and surrounding areas to the European Market. South African consultant, Perishable Products for Export Control Board (PPECB), is currently involved in transferring skills such as the testing for residual pesticides and conformity of grapes to the European market with AMTA staff.

Lucas said that AMTA’s strategy will eventually also branch into the livestock industry, not only to promote internal market conformity to health codes but also to strengthen local procurement and consumption of fish, poultry and small stock. This, Lucas said, is vital in for finding immediate markets for smallholder farmers while not coming in direct competition with industry players such as Meatco that are more focused on exporting to lucrative markets.

On the matter of broadening AMTA’s mandate, Lucas said that individuals serving on the NAB has conflicting interests as they suggested and implemented laws that favour NAB board members who serve on decision-making committees while being themselves active business people in the agronomic sector.

AMTA is currently the implementer of NAB’s decisions, taking some of the regulatory decisions such as the control and setting of rules for the import and export of fresh produce and grains,” Lucas said.

The interim transition measures while the Agronomic Industry Act is amended, will eventually give AMTA the authority to implement marketing and trade functions.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Agronomic Board, Chirstof Brock said in earlier talks with the Economist that he can not disclose much on the process as it is still ongoing. He said however, that both parties will work together without threat to the other, while also awaiting input from the Auditor General on the amendment of the Agronomic Industry Act.

Brock said that AMTA and the NAB are working on measures to boost the viability of the Fresh Produce Hubs viability to depend less on imports and focus more on local production.

Lucas in a previous interview with the Economist declined to comment on what other responsibilities the Agronomic Board will forfeit but assured that it will still be a relevant board retaining its function of facilitation.

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