The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has increased collection points by 10 percent to 95 as it moves to increase deliveries and boost the strategic grain reserve.
This comes at a time when grain deliveries are under 100 000 metric tonnes against last year’s supply of 360 000 tonnes during the first four months of official grain marketing.
GMB public relations officer Joseph Katete told Business Times the increase of collection points would reduce transport costs for farmers and this would eventually improve deliveries.
“We have moved to increase collection points to over 95 from 86 in a bid to improve grain deliveries which have remained low over the past months,” Katete said
Despite government’s efforts to hike maize prices thrice this year, some farmers are still holding on to their crop. Last month, government reviewed the maize producer’s price by 50 percent to ZWL$2100 from ZWL$1400 to cushion farmers in the wake of runaway inflation.
Farmers believe they will get more money in October than now.
Government was targeting to get close to 450 000 tonnes of grain from farmers but with the pace at which maize is trickling to GMB the targeted figure might not be reached.
This means that the country will be forced to use over US$260 million on grain importation.
Katete said GMB has moved to take grain with moisture content of above 13 percent, a figure that the board would reject in a normal season. GMB has also introduced bulk transportation which involves the transportation of maize without even packing it into 50 kilogramme bags. This means even those without empty bags could transport their maize without extra costs.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakariya wants GMB to have more collection points to avoid transport costs. “It’s a welcome development but we need GMB to open up more collection points to reduce congestion in main depots,” he said.
Despite that call, farmers still want to transport their maize to Harare as they believe paperwork for the maize would be lost in various collection points causing some delay in payments.
Zimbabwe consumes 1.8 million tonnes of grain annually.
In June, government made GMB the sole grain buyer last month as part of efforts to curb side marketing and cut arbitrage opportunities in the maize sector.
Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 decreed that producers of maize or farmer should transport not more than five bags of maize of a capacity not exceeding 50 kilogrammes per bag from one area of the country to the other.
It states that a person who acquires any maize for use as seed shall not use or dispose of that maize for any other purpose unless with the written permission of GMB.