TEMPERS flared yesterday during a meeting between poultry farmers and the Agricultural Marketing Authority management over a proposed Statutory Instrument to be called the Poultry and Poultry Products Industry Development Regulations 2013, that will require poultry producers to register, pay levies and submit returns to the authority.
The stakeholders were meeting in Harare to find common ground on the proposed statutory instrument as well as getting farmers' input into the proposed legislation.
AMA chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha said the instrument was to meant to bring sanity and order to the industry.
He said the purpose of the workshop was to probe people to bring ideas together and come up with a complete document that will ensure the sector moves forward.
Mr Mutenha added that the records would also be used for planning purposes. AMA director, production planning and operations, Mr Maxwell Chikanda said AMA was still working on the document and expected stakeholders to make suggestions, identify omitted issues to address emerging challenges.
The poultry covered under the Statutory Instruments include indigenous or exotic, ducks, turkey, guinea fowl and ostrich.
The instrument requires every person or company, on becoming a breeder, producer, abattoir, importer or exporter of poultry or poultry products to register with the AMA. On ceasing operations, they shall notify the authority accordingly.
The instrument also states that every breeder, producer, contractor, abattoir, importer or exporter of poultry and poultry products shall keep records showing the numbers of each class of day-old chicks, poultry, poultry products produced, sold, slaughtered, imported or exported in respect to business operations and focus .
An AMA inspector may at reasonable times require any breeder, producer, abattoir, contractor, importer or exporter of poultry or poultry products to provide for inspection of the records which they are required to maintain
It also states that every breeder, producer, abattoir, contractor, importer or exporter of poultry and poultry products shall submit to the AMA, a monthly return giving details of products produced, processed, sold or retained, imported or exported during the preceding month.
The draft instrument also proposes that at least 50 percent of poultry products on sale be locally produced. Farmers suggested that the percentage be increased to 75 percent.
A processing fee of US5 cents per kilogramme on all poultry meat and poultry products imported for resale shall be paid to the Poultry Industry Development Fund while US1c will be paid for every chick sold or retained by breeder. The fees and levies shall be used for development of poultry industry.
However, farmers representatives at the meeting opposed the proposed legislation accusing the authority of trying to destroy the poultry industry as it did to the cotton industry .
The farmers said the instrument would further cripple farmers who are currently facing economic challenges.
They also accused AMA of trying to take over duties, which were already being undertaken by other departments.
They said the Department of Veterinary Services was already conducting registration of producers and had records.
The farmers demanded to know how the funds would be used. They accused AMA of shifting from being a service provider to a revenue authority.
Karoi poultry producer Mrs Enerdy Tsoro said small-scale farmers had never benefited from the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and therefore did not have confidence in the ministry handling the funds.
This is the same with the city councils that collect revenue with 80 percent of the money going towards salaries, she said.
Mrs Tsoro said that instead of empowering small-scale producers through indigenisation, AMA was actually out to milk farmers.
The levies may be reviewed upwards and people in the communal areas will lose their poultry after failing to pay the levies, she complained.
Another producer, Dr Mathias Mukova, said AMA should be concentrating on resuscitating collapsing industries other than introducing levies for poultry producers.
Zimbabwe Women in Poultry director Mrs Teverai Nhapi suggested that there be specifications in the producers who are supposed to pay levies.
She proposed that producers who produce less than 18 000 birds per year be exempted from the levies.
The old SI of 1977 states that a producer with 50 birds of the same type or 100 birds of different types should pay levy.