Agriculture

Grain deliveries up 63.5%

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have gone up 63.5% to 124,985 metric tonnes during the four months of selling season from 76,400 tonnes in the comparable period last year driven by the maize input swap facility.

Most companies are selling inputs at prices of over US$100 per 25 kilogrammes of maize seed and the maize input swap scheme has seen farmers deliver maize in order to acquire inputs.

GMB chief executive Rockie Mutenha told Business Times that the increase in the intake grain delivery figures can be attributed to facilities that have been put in place ensure farmers are encouraged to sell their cereal to the grain authority.

“As of August 23 2020, the GMB had received 124 985 tonnes from local farmers.

 Cumulatively maize intake is 48 585 tonnes higher than the cumulative intake during the same period last year which stood at 76 400 metric tonnes,” he said.

“Maize/ inputs swap scheme where farmers are provided with inputs in exchange for maize at a cheaper price will allow farmers to get inputs at affordable prices.”

He said collection points, mobile and permanent, have been established in all districts so that farmers do not have to travel long distances to deliver maize to GMB depots.

GMB has also introduced farmer card system which enables farmers to be paid instantly for members. Despite second successive drought which left 8m citizens starving, government insists over 1.2m metric tonnes were harvested in the country.

The development comes at a time when Zimbabwe is facing rising cost of living, rising inflation and shrinking spending power, critical mealie meal shortages. This could put the country into a serious turmoil.

Maize is Zimbabwe’s staple grain that traditionally impacts the country’s economy given its skewed influence in determining inflation rates of the consumer price index that determines the average rise in the cost of living.

Grain shortage is causing more price increases especially in the food stuffs and beer area.

A 10kg bag of mealie-meal price has shot to ZWL$500 from around $130 in June. Despite a 63.5% increase in grain deliveries, agricultural analysts said the figures are not likely going to surpass 500,000 tonnes of delivered maize.

Due to drought and arbitrage opportunities farmers believe that they can still get more from their cereal hence side marketing will remain rampant. Consequently, the country is expected to fork out close to US$300m to import maize from Brazil and other South American countries.

The development will further burden the already struggling treasury and will cause more problems for the bedridden economy as more foreign currency is needed to import the cereal.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakariya said: “Government should continue to come up with more incentives to lure farmers to deliver their crop to GMB.

And also due to the inflationary environment, timely payment of farmers is key.”

Government has started distributing grain in many urban centres including Harare to cushion the poor from hunger.

Agriculture analysts say more forex is required to import grain this year given that Zambia and Malawi were also destroyed by both Cyclone Idai and El Nino and the fact that Beira port will not be fully functional this year given the magnitude of destruction.

With SADC weather outlook forecasting good rainfall patterns throughout the season, farmers are likely going to improve on productivity. However, exorbitant inputs prices are likely going to affect production as very few farmers will afford to procure inputs.

A 50kg bag of Compound D is ranging from US$25 to US$30 while top dressing is ranging from US$27 to US$36.

Zimbabwe requires 1.8m tonnes of grain for both human and livestock consumption.

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