Experts have called for the liberalisation of the marketing of agricultural products which is critical to achieving increased agricultural production as witnessed in the tobacco sector.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to adopt policies of a free market economy where economic growth is private sector–led with the government coming in merely as a regulator.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union Executive Director Dr Paul Zakariya says in the agriculture sector, captains of industry have embraced the policy position as vital to boosting production of some cash crops such as cotton and soya bean.

“The marketing of some key crops should be based on the forces of supply and demand. It helps to achieve a market equilibrium where the prices obtaining are truly reflective of the market dynamics. For crops like maize which is a staple food, you might need government to intervene to ensure food security,” said Dr Zakariya.

Dr Zakariya gave tobacco as an example where the auction system has been effective in encouraging farmers to achieve higher yields with a price mechanism that benefits all.

“Tobacco has breached the 220 million kilogrammes of the year 2000 because the auction system works well in rewarding those who concentrate on higher yields and quality. The same should be extended to soya bean, cotton and other crops,” he added.

An auction system of cotton made Zimbabwe one of the main producers of the white gold up until the government interfered in price setting.

As economic fundamentals fall into place, the revival of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZIMACE) will be important in complementing that goal.