Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Over 100 000 tonnes of maize have so far been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board, with 500 000 tonnes expected to have been delivered by the end of this month, an official has said.
A total of $25 million has so far been paid to farmers who have delivered their produce to the national granary. Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest of 2,7 million tonnes of cereals, of which 2,1 million tonnes are expected to come from maize.
The remaining 500 000 tonnes will come from small grains like pearl millet, finger millet, rapoko and sorghum. In an interview, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Cropping) Davis Marapira said 1 300 tonnes of small grains had also been delivered.
“Farmers started delivering their maize with at least 100 000 so far already having been transported to the board (GMB) since the harvesting season started,” he said. “We are urging our farmers to deliver as we are paying for all the deliveries done at the GMB.
“We are expecting more farmers to deliver at the Grain Marketing Board after a successful season, as compared to the previous years. We attribute the success to good rains, as well as Command Agriculture, Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and contract farm- ing.”
The deliveries are expected to keep improving after farmers who participated in Command Agriculture planted a combined 240 000 hectares of maize and will deliver five tonnes each to the GMB.
President Mugabe has expressed satisfaction with the success registered by the initial implementation of Command Agriculture programme which he labelled as “beautiful”.
This is despite Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo’s spirited campaign against the programme, attacking it on social media and in the private press..
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government was helping the GMB in putting up driers so that farmers’ grain was not rejected on account of high moisture content.
He urged farmers to be patient with their harvest. This comes after some farmers have been selling the rejected grain to unscrupulous dealers who offer low cash prices. Turning to the winter and summer cropping season, Deputy Minister Marapira said farmers recieved inputs on time.
“We are expecting high yields for the winter and summer cropping season as our farmers received all the inputs on time,” he said. “Resources permitting, our Agritex officers should be equipped to carry out more field visits to farmers to improve our yield per hectare.”
Deputy Minister Marapira said plans for the 2017-18 summer cropping season were in progress.
Government secured a $487 million facility to fund the 2017-18 agricultural season and movement of inputs under the Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Support schemes.