Source: $630m reserved for local grain purchases | The Herald August 5, 2019
Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Government has set aside $630 million for local grain purchases and logistics to augment the 852 000 tonnes anticipated from the 2018/2019 grain yield, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said.
He said this while presenting the 2019 Mid-Year Budget Review and Supplementary Budget last Thursday.
“To incentivise farmers to deliver, Government has reviewed maize producer prices upwards from $726 per tonne set earlier,” said Prof Ncube.
“GMB has also opened additional collection points in various provinces of the country to enhance grain mobilisation and reduce transport costs to the farmer.
“This Supplementary Budget, therefore, provides $630 million for local grain purchases and logistics,” said Minister Ncube.
GMB, through Silo Foods Industries is now buying maize at $2 100 per tonne.
Government has gazetted a Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 classifying maize as a controlled product. This means farmers are now only selling maize to GMB or their contractors.
The grain marketing season started on April 1, 2019 with an expected output of 852 000 tonnes from both maize and small grain, which is significantly below the annual national requirements of approximately 1,8 million tonnes required for human consumption.
By last Friday, farmers had delivered 100 000 tonnes of maize and 1 600 tonnes of small grains to the Grain Marketing Board depots countrywide.
GMB is paying farmers within a week.
Last Wednesday, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri defended the move to restrict the buying and selling of maize as it allowed consumers to access grain at affordable prices.
“If we allow everyone to access the maize, especially some of the companies, we end up with maize not made readily available to the consumers and at times being made available at exorbitant prices. A very good example is that of bread.
“We are currently releasing wheat to the millers. The bakers, instead of producing bread, they are producing confectioneries because they get much more from selling confectioneries. The little bread that is baked is availed to consumers through the black market at very exorbitant prices. We will not allow a repeat of such a situation to happen inasfar as the staple food is concerned,” he said.
Minister Shiri said they have allowed people to buy up to five bags for domestic consumption.
“Inasfar as the issue of Anti-Monopolies Act, as long as there is clear demonstration that there are some elements who are acting against the interests of the consumer, Government will always be there to protect the interests of the consumer,” he said.