Energy company, Sakunda Holdings has told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the total amount spend on Command Agriculture was US$1 Billion in the four years the programme was implemented and not US$3 Billion as widely shared by the committee.
Giving oral evidence before PAC on its role in the agrarian programme, Sakunda said it was merely sub-contracting suppliers of agricultural inputs on behalf of government for a fee.
Sakunda Holdings chief operations officer, Mberikwazvo Chitambo indicated that the company in most instances was using its market status to cajole local banks to accept government TBs and raise finance to acquire inputs.
Sakunda would charge a facilitation fee of 1.5 percent of each loan agreement sealed.
“In March 2016 Government invited private sector, about 40 companies to find ways to finance the revamping of the production of maize for import substitution. We submitted our structure and this is how we got invited.
“I don’t know if there was a bidding process, how the invitations were treated, I don’t know. Between us and the Ministry of Finance, we were a lender and they were a borrower,” Chitambo said.
He said Sakunda then sourced seed from local suppliers like SeedCo, Agriseed, K2, ArdaSeed and Mukushi see while fertilizers were procured from FSG, ZFC, Sable chemicals, Omnia and PHI.
Chemicals were sourced from CP Chemical.
“Government offered security, a ring fenced accounts it would allocate money. They offered us TBs,” Chitambo added.
Quizzed by the committee why government opted to source inputs via Sakunda and not directly with suppliers, Chitambo said Sakunda’s market status wa needed to unlock finance from banks who were reluctant to deal with treasury due to its slower repayment record.
For the summer of 2016-17, Sakunda said it spent US$ 85 million on irrigated maize and soya beans.
For rain-fed soya, the company spent US$ 75 million with a further US$ 30 million channeled to the Presidential input program.
In the initial year, Sakunda also bought eight land cruisers, 10 double cabs, single cabs and 10 more vehicles for monitoring and implementation of the program.
Sakunda stated that its role was to source financing and transportation of inputs to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots with the rest would done by GMB and the Ministry of Agriculture.