agric produce 07.09.10.jpgThe recently established Commodities Exchange of Zimbabwe (COMEZ) has raised eyebrows in the agriculture sector as it has the potential to place control of agriculture commodities in private hands thereby putting national food security at risk.

COMEZ was launched amid anticipation that it will regularise trading of commodities in line with market forces and increase finance availability for the agricultural sector, but questions are now being raised whether the move has not jeopardized the country’s food security.

The Agriculture Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe (AMA) has questioned the wisdom of allowing the highest bidder to take control of certain agriculture commodities including maize, which is considered strategic.

COMEZ is an organised trading place where buyers and sellers can trade with or without physical commodities in a competitive environment.

The exchange will initially trade grains, cereals and oil seeds.

AMA Vice Chairman, Mr Bezel Nyabadza said while the idea of a body which helps market agricultural produce is a noble one, the system is prone to abuse as private buyers can buy all the grain leaving government with no strategic reserves for emergencies.

“If you get players coming in and singling out one aspect to market it, that becomes a problem. A new player can mop up commodities for example they can buy maize at US$500 while the GMB is offering US$400. What does that do to our national position?” asked Mr Nyabadza.

AMA is mandated to participate in the research, production, processing and marketing of agriculture resources but with the commodities exchange, there will now be two bodies in the marketing of agriculture produce.

Mr Nyabadza said the newly established COMEZ, which falls under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce headed by Professor Welshman Ncube, should not only remain anchored in marketing agricultural produce but also help in financing farmers if it is to make a meaningful contribution to agriculture.