It seems that parliament has had enough with the many hitches that continue to hit the agricultural sector and now wants to take drastic action.
It has decided to summon the ministers of agriculture and that of trade and industry over poor post-harvest handling and weak value addition initiatives of agricultural produce.
The lawmakers want the line ministers to set a timeline and deadlines to streamline all the issues raised by the MPs. They threatened that if they fail to deliver by then, they will face sanctions.
That is definitely a wrong approach because the agricultural sector is vulnerable to weather and market behaviour. The best approach is mitigating those forces and helping to remove barriers that could be hindering the growth of the sector.
It is not up to the ministers to set up food processing factories, what they do is to oversee the implementation of policies conducive to setting up the said factories.
It is up to the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities.
That Kinazi Cassava Factory is working below capacity while there is a bumper harvest lying idle on the other side of the country, those in the transport sector will surely find that it makes business sense to enter the fray.
If some factories have goods stacked to the roof in their stores for lack of markets, it doesn’t need a minister’s intervention but good marketing.
All stakeholders need to sit down and chart the way forward. The role of parliament is oversight and enacting suitable laws that will enable the country to move forward. That will help smooth the journey towards agricultural growth.
Hanging Damocles’ sword above the ministers’ heads will not solve the problem overnight.