BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
FARMERS yesterday lamented that the $32 000 maize producer price recently announced by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was too low and made it difficult for them to buy inputs for the next cropping season as most inputs were being sold in foreign currency.
Luke Tavaziva, a farmer from Zvimba West in Mashonaland West province, told NewsDay during a Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) outreach programme last week that the maize producer price was not enough to support farming activities for the next season.
“The challenge is that although the price announced by GMB looks huge, it’s not good. It won’t allow farmers to go back to the fields and to also sustain their families during the course of the year. Most fertilizer shops throughout the country are charging in United States dollars,” Tavaziva said.
“In addition to the challenges I already mentioned, our workers are now requesting salary payments in US dollars. How can we afford this when we earn local currency from our farming efforts? As a result, we end up selling our maize to mobile buyers at US$3 per 20kg. That price is not good enough too as they would have forced us to reduce it from US$5,” he said.
Tavaziva, who is expecting to harvest at least 10 tonnes of maize, said the GMB should pay farmers in foreign currency.
FAO is currently promoting bio-fortified maize, sweet potato and bean production in the country following findings from a 2012 Zimbabwe National Micronutrient Survey which indicated that Zimbabwe had a high deficiency of iron and Vitamin A.
According to the survey, the percentage of children aged six to 59 months with iron deficiency in rural areas was 72,2%, those with iron deficiency (25,3) and the zero to 59 months of age with stunted growth in rural areas was 28,1%. Farmers from 12 districts around the country participated in the programme to grow bio-fortified crops.