Elita Chikwati-Agriculture Reporter
Farmers have hailed Government for availing $60 billion to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for the procurement of grain during the 2021 marketing season which started on April 1.
In his address on Independence Day, President Mnangagwa announced that Treasury had set aside $60 billion towards grain procurement.
“Treasury has set aside $60 billion for the timely payment of farmers by the Grain Marketing Board. The usual grain collection depots will be complemented by mobile and fixed collection points throughout the country,” he said.
The swift implementation of the Presidential Climate-Proofed Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme, Presidential Input Support Scheme, Command Agriculture, Presidential Horticulture Programme and respective initiatives by farmers, he said, have also yielded positive results.
The President said the good rains gave impetus for the implementation of the National Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Programme as well as the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme.
“To this end, we are speeding up the rate of completion of dams, with Marovanyati and Causeway dams having so far been completed. Gwayi-Shangani Dam will be completed by year-end,” said President Mnangagwa.
Most farmers said this move will ensure timely payments to farmers, boost the national grain reserve and discourage side marketing.
The setting up of collection points nearer farming areas, farmers said was also going to make it easier for them to deliver grain without incurring huge costs.
GMB is buying maize at $32 000 per tonne, traditional grains $38 000 and soyabean at $48 000 per tonne.
Farmers who deliver grain to the GMB depots will get their money in 72 hours while those who deliver through collection points will be paid within five working days.
Over the years, GMB faced challenges paying farmers resulting in delays and a huge backlog.
This forced some farmers to side market their grain to middlemen.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union director, Mr Paul Zakariya yesterday said they also welcomed the establishment of collection points which made it easier for farmers to deliver the grain without spending much on transport costs.
“Assurances have been made on timely payments for grain and the establishment of buying points close to where the farmers are.
“With the preparations that have been put in place this far, we do expect a smooth marketing season.
“Farmers need to be paid within reasonable time after produce has been delivered. The payment modalities should not keep farmers away from their fields for prolonged periods as this may erode value,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice president, Mr Edward Dune said they were excited that the Government had set aside $60 billion to pay for grain deliveries.
“We believe payments will be instant as promised so that farmers become liquid to convert their money into forex and procure their necessities to retool at a reasonable rate since the economy has dollarised itself,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Dr Shadreck Makombe urged farmers to deliver their grain to the GMB depots early so they can reduce post-harvest handling losses.
“We appreciate the gesture by the Government. Our farmers should deliver their grain to the GMB to minimise post-harvest losses and get their money on time, before their earnings are eroded by inflation,” he said.
“Prompt payments will help farmers to start procuring inputs for the next season.”
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka said all the 84 GMB depots are open everyday.
“A total of 1 389 buying points have been identified for the convenience of farmers.
“A further 400 collection points are being identified. The target is to establish 1 800 buying points countrywide one in each ward. Points will be activated soon to receive additional maize and grains. The GMB has adequate grain bags, drying and storage capacity. Additional drying and storage capacity has also been secured with the private sector,” he said.