GOVERNMENT owes farmers $2,7 billion for grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), a situation that has affected preparations for the forthcoming agricultural season.
Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka told Parliament on Wednesday that government will begin paying farmers the outstanding amounts before the end of the week after legislators pressed him to explain the delay.This follows complaints from farmers who are not impressed by late payment amid rising inflation.
“GMB would go for months to years without paying farmers. Over the past two years, government has endeavoured to pay farmers timeously. As of today, the outstanding amounts are less than seven days old,” Masuka said.
“GMB intends to pay the $2,7 billion that is outstanding to farmers for grain delivered before the end of the week. We thank Treasury for acting expeditiously in this regard.“We will also announce a price for the wheat season next week. It will be a very lucrative one. GMB and government have put in place all the necessary mechanisms to ensure that farmers are paid as expeditiously and as humanely as possible.”
The Lands and Agriculture minister said the private sector would also come on board to finance farmers.
He said government was in the process of reviving the Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC) to assist in the financing of A1 and A2 farmers.
Masuka said AFC has been capacitated with tractors and combine harvesters so that farmers who do not have the capacity to purchase their own equipment access tillage services and insurance, which will then act as collateral.“Additionally, AFC will also finance a very substantial amount of irrigation schemes via the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority. Over and above this, AFC has received government guarantees worth or equivalent to US$156 million to enable it to finance agriculture in the 2022/23 agricultural season,” he added.