Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has paid over $5,5 billion to wheat farmers since the beginning of the marketing season and assured farmers that they would have all received their money by the end of this month.
This comes as a number of farmers have raised concern over the delays in wheat payments.
The farmers are complaining that Government had announced a viable producer price, but the GMB was taking long to pay them.
GMB is buying utility of ordinary wheat at $43 778, 84 per tonne, while farmers with grade A will be paid a premium price of 20 percent above the utility grade up to $52 534,61 per tonne.
Farmers started delivering their wheat to GMB depots early October.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union president, Mrs Monica Chinamasa, urged authorities to speed up wheat payments as delays would costs farmers who wanted to use the money for the summer cropping season programmes.
“We applaud Government for offering a viable price of $52 543 per tonne of wheat,” she said. “This is a good price which will motivate farmers to continue producing the crop. The only challenge this season has been the delays in wheat payments. Farmers are happy about the price but the payments are delaying. We hope Government will ensure farmers get their payments early.”
GMB chief executive, Mr Rockie Mutenha, yesterday assured farmers that they will get their payments by end of December.
He said the wheat being delivered by farmers to the GMB was being sold to millers and this was also expected to see an improvement of payments to farmers.
“Last week we received $1,4 billion which we are currently paying farmers,” said Mr Mutenha. “Wheat, unlike maize, has a very short period and all farmers tend to deliver same time putting pressure to Treasury as they will be having other competing demands for money.
We assure farmers that all of them will have received their payments by end of December. ”
Mr Mutenha said this year, GMB was grading wheat into premium (grade A) and utility (ordinary) grades.
The 2020 winter wheat cropping season registered a remarkable improvement after the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement implemented some of the Agriculture Recovery Plan interventions to reverse the negative trends in production. Last season, farmers produced 90 000 tonnes of wheat, while this season they harvested enough wheat to cater for nine months, reducing money spent on imports.
The interventions included early distribution of inputs, announcement of a pre-planting producer price, uninterrupted supply of electricity and water for irrigation, contract farming, stakeholder co-ordination, assurance of combine harvesters and boost of extension services through capacitation of staff.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement will introduce summer wheat production starting with the 2021-2022 season to ensure wheat self-sufficiency and cut future imports.