Embattled Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was in a no show at a key agriculture meeting and was instead represented by the Minister of State in his office Clifford Sibanda.

There was heightened curiosity on whether Mnangagwa would attend the meeting, following an alleged food poisoning incident about two weeks ago.

Instead, Sibanda delivered the key note speech in Mnangagwa’s absence, saying the government had introduced a new statutory instrument to curb side-marketing of State-sponsored farm produce and abuse of inputs provided under the command agriculture programme.

 “Statutory Instrument 79 of 2017, the Agriculture Marketing Authority (Command Agriculture Scheme for Domestic Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Production) is in order and those, who take advantage of cash challenges and entice farmers to side-market their produce at uncompetitive prices will be dealt with accordingly,” Mnangagwa said in a speech read on his behalf by Sibanda.

“As I speak, maize deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots have already surpassed half a million metric tonnes.

Deliveries are ongoing and some silos are already full and maize is being moved to other GMB depots across the country.”

“Of course, achieving this landmark development requires the effort of every stakeholder in the agriculture sector and cannot be done by government alone. This calls for support from all players in the value chain system inclusive of the financial services sector, agro inputs producers and equipment suppliers, as well as farmers themselves,” he said. newsday