Source: ‘Arrest middlemen buying maize cheap’ | The Herald May 11, 2017
Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
THE Grain Millers Association has called for a crackdown on unscrupulous middlemen using cash to entice farmers to sell maize at prices as low as $100 per tonne instead of the $390 stipulated by Government.
Taking advantage of the cash shortages, middlemen are reported to have invaded the countryside with wads of cash and enticing farmers to part with their harvest at prices below the statutory prices, impoverishing farmers.
Reports this week showed that cash-rich middlemen were ripping off farmers and reselling the maize mostly to the Grain Marketing Board at double the amount they have paid.
These middlemen, GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said, are saboteurs and must be arrested as they are working against Government’s efforts to revive the agriculture sector.
Mr Musarara said buying maize at less than the stipulated $390 per tonne is an offence as it precipitates side marketing of maize grown under the Command Agriculture or private contract farming arrangements. “GMAZ is deeply disturbed with recent reports of middlemen buying maize from maize at unviable prices of $100 per tonne.
“These prices will, undoubtedly, impoverish the farmers and more importantly, debilitate the momentum so far gained in the maize production,” GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said yesterday.
“It is an offence to buy maize without a valid license or permit from the Agricultural Marketing Authority. We implore AMA to conduct a crackdown on these illegal and unscrupulous maize buyers who are precipitating side marketing of maize grown under the Command Agriculture or private contract farming.”
Command agriculture, an initiative planned by Government but implemented through private public partnerships, is expected to have a positive impact on maize productivity as more than two million tonnes are expected to be harvested this season.
GMAZ, which has committed to take up 800 000 tonnes white maize under Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme, said it is in discussion with Government on maize buying arrangements and in particular the payment to farmers. “These arrangements are expected to be finalised and put in place by May 22, 2017.
“GMAZ supports the price of $390 per tonne to farmers announced by Government, which is viable and promote the sustaining of maize farming in the country,” said Mr Musarara.