Govt owes ZWL$9.3bn to farmers

 

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

 

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) owes grain farmers over ZWL$9bn amid indications that the government is yet to raise enough bonds towards the payment of farmers.

In April this year, government made its intentions of raising ZWL$60bn towards the procurement of grain and to date ZWL$20bn was raised through Agricultural Marketing Authorities (AMA) bills.

In her post-Cabinet briefing this Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government is moving with speed to clear farmers’ arrears.

“All grain [wheat, maize, traditional grains and soya beans] delivered to date is valued at ZWL$23.1bn, of which ZWL$14.3bn has been paid to farmers, giving an outstanding balance of ZWL$9.3bn. All efforts are being made to ensure that the backlog is cleared post-harvest,” Mutsvangwa said.

She said 629 007 metric tonnes of maize, 11 381mt of soya bean and   64 798mt of traditional grains had been delivered to the GMB as at August 2 2021.

Wheat stocks were 79 820 metric tonnes for week ending August 2, 2021 and is sufficient until the next harvest which is expected to commence in September.

The GMB said it is in talks with the Treasury to release money to give farmers.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union secretary general Paul Zakariya told Business Times that the delays have hampered upcoming season preparations.

“Farmers need their money as soon as possible to buy inputs but the delays could have negative impact in the procuring of raw materials for the upcoming season,” he said.

GMB has 87 depots dotted around the country.

GMB was making electronic payments at various depots to farmers with the board making its on electric card which has the same features with other bank cards.

Payments were made through bank transfers and mobile money platforms and farmer card wallet.

Various illegal buyers around the country were seen buying maize at around US$3 per bucket which translates to US$180 per tonne.

Some farmers who have hard pressing issues were opting to sell to them but various farmers were opting for GMB with high prices.

At black market rate, GMB is paying around US$240 per tonne while at the auction rate the board is paying around US$378 per tonne, a situation which woo farmers to sell to the sole grain buyer.

The country’s grain requirement stands at two million metric tonnes and the GMB is confident that the country will get past three million metric tonnes of grain.

This year, the country will cut down on grain imports of over US$500m.

 

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