Govt not supporting Amta

26 September 2018 | Local News

Government entities are accused of not doing much to support the Agro-Marketing and Trading Agency (Amta) to realise its mission.

The parastatal's management informed Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila last week that government entities only procure as little as 5% of AMTA's produce.

They urged Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to encourage government institutions to support Amta's fresh produce hubs.

Amta's regional manager for the Ongwediva fresh produce hub, Jacob Hamutenya, told Ewi LyaNooli that during the briefing with the prime minister they informed her that government institutions such as school hostels, hospitals and others do not support them by consuming local produce.

They also wonder where catering companies that supply these institutions buy their produce from.

Amutenya said the agency's mandate is to promote local products by creating market access, but there is nothing they can do if local catering companies and retailers do not support them.

“Local farmers supply us with their products and it is the duty of the government to make sure that catering companies and retailers that are awarded tenders to supply government institutions buy products from us. They, however, opt to get the same products produced locally from elsewhere,” Amutenya said.

“This is the main challenge facing Amta and it is killing our operations.”

He said about 35% of their produce is taken up by street vendors and other informal market sellers, another 35% goes to mini-markets and a few supermarkets, while 15% is bought by walk-in customers.

“Only 5% is consumed by government institutions. We have a list of all our suppliers and only Oluno and the Farm Scott correctional facilities and Onandjokwe hospital support us, while there are many schools, hospitals and other institutions,” he said.

Amutenya said despite there being no lucrative market for the local produces, in order not to discourage them, Amta buys their produce and tries to squeeze it into the informal market. However, they end up competing with farmers and their street vendor customers.

In an effort to establish a market for local producers and arrange imports of much-needed fresh produce into the country, Amta has entered into a public-private partnership agreement with Fysal Fresh Produce to operate from the agency' national fresh produce hubs nationwide.

Amta hopes Fysal's experience in the trade of fresh produce will be beneficial to drive the agro-trading agency's mandate of assisting local producers to acquire markets, by targeting both the Angolan and South African markets where Fysal also operates.

However, this partnership was heavily criticised by many as waste of government money.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila visited the Ongwediva fresh produce hub after she received complaints about the partnership, amid allegations that Fysal was only sourcing produce from South Africa and trading it at the government hub.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said she was assured that it is a requirement for all traders operating from Amta to first source locally and if there is shortage, then produce can be sourced from abroad.

“I came to familiarise myself with the Amta facilities and the operational plans that are put in place in order to help Amta realise the mission for which it was established. I received a briefing from the management and regional government and I also toured the facility,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

“Our expectation as government is to ensure that Amta helps to optimise local production in the agriculture and other food sectors locally and internationally, to support value addition and capacity building of local producers.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said she noted the challenges that Amta is faced with, and how it has organised itself to tackle these.

ILENI NANDJATO

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