Farmers have threatened to withhold maize deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board due to subdued prices and rampant inflation which continue to wipe out their earnings. With 66 days into the official maize marketing season less than 5000 tonnes maize have been delivered to GMB.
Despite an 86 percent increase in the producer price to RTGS$726 per tonne from RTGS$390, the high cost of living and inputs will leave farmers without anything to count for on their hard work hence they believe holding on to their crop will give them better money from September onwards.
Experts say there is urgent need for a review of prices to lure farmers to sell their crops to GMB warning that failure to review the prices would result in Zimbabwe using US$350m for grain imports from the initially budgeted US$200 million.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Wonder Chabikwa said the maize price should match import parity of US$280 per tonne.
“Farming is a business on its own, therefore it needs a great deal of capital to do. With the prices of inputs and high cost of living RTGS$726/tonne is just a joke.”
In a situation like this, side marketing will thrive as most middlemen come with higher prices than the gazetted price.
Already private buyers are purchasing at RTGS$900/ per tonne and on cash basis.
GMB corporate communications manager, Joseph Katete told Business Times that the marketing season is still at infancy stage. The peak selling season is traditionally around July.
“We are optimistic that grain will come to GMB especially during the peak period of July to September.”
Zimbabwe’s maize production for the current season fell to 714 548 tonnes from 900 000 tonnes last year due to El Nino induced drought and Cyclone Idai. The output is against the national requirement of 1,8 million tonnes per year.