Govt reviews maize producers price

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LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

GOVERNMENT has reviewed the maize producer price by 50 percent to ZWL$2100 from ZWL$1400 in an effort to encourage farmers to deliver their grain to Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

This comes as farmers have been holding on to their maize stock due to poor prices that have been ravaged and rendered useless by the inflation.  Inflation reached 175,66 percent in June from 97,85 percent in May eroding the purchasing power.

This is the third time in 2019 that government has reviewed the maize prices.

Maize prices were reviewed to ZWL$726, then ZWL$1400.

MB said yesterday the marketing board had tasked Silo Food Industries to open various collection points to cut farmers transport costs.

“Silo Food Industries is now buying maize and small grains from farmers at ZWL$2100 per metric tonne and it will be buying this grain from GMB depots throughout the country,” GMB said.

“Silo Food Industries will with immediate effect open various collection points where farmers can avert transport costs.”

GMB has cut short the number of days which farmers are paid to seven from 14 days in order to woo farmers to bring their cereal through formal channels.

As of July 13, GMB had received 42 008 metric tonnes of maize against 196 000 in the same period last year.

In terms of the small grains, 444 tonnes were delivered, 881 tonnes of soya were delivered and 822 tonnes of groundnuts were transported to GMB.

Agriculture experts believe that with the rate farmers are delivering maize, government might be forced to import over one million tonnes of grain to feed the nation.

The strategic grain reserve which should be above 500 000 tonnes at all times has been strained to less than 200 000 tonnes.

With the farmers not willing to release their maize, the country might be forced to fork out above US$280m to import maize from Brazil and Argentina.

GMB said farmers who delivered maize from April 1 when the maize marketing season kicks off will get a back pay to match the current ZWL$2100.

The development also comes after 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.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive Paul Zakariya said the review in the producer price would encourage farmers to deliver maize to GMB.

“The incentives for delivering maize to GMB are there but it is up to the farmer to do so. The authorities have created good environment for farmers to deliver maize,” Zakariya said.

Zimbabwe consumes 1,8 million tonnes of maize yearly.

United Nations and other aid related organisations believe over four million Zimbabweans are food insecure and there is an urgent need to ensure they are fed.