By AMOS BATISAYI
FARMERS in the Midlands province have resisted the new Grain Marketing Board (GMB) grain prices that were announced by government last week, saying they would rather sell their maize to the highest bidders.
GMB recently increased the maize and traditional grains producer price to $75 000 per tonne up from the previous $50 000 announced in December.
In US dollar terms, the new price of grain is around US$180 using black market rates.
The farmers have described the new prices as too low and have called on the government to pay them in foreign currency to cushion them against the depreciating local currency.
Gokwe and Kwekwe farmers who spoke to Southern Eye said by the time they get paid in the local currency at harvest time, the money would have been eroded by inflation.
“The producer prices should be pegged in US dollar because our local currency is not stable,” Herbert Choruma, a Gokwe farmer said.
“The maize and traditional grains producer prices of $75 000 per metric tonne by GMB are uncompetitive. We are now contemplating on selling our produce on the black market. Government cannot expect farmers to produce when it is paying such low prices for grain. The production chain will be hamstrung,” another farmer Sheila Muronziwa said.
Farmers said it costs US$100 to prepare land per hectare and two applications of herbicides also cost US$100.
“That farmer also requires labour to remove weeds and tender the crops. Farmers are simply going to sell their produce to the highest bidder,” said Kwekwe farmer Misheck Shumba.
Farmers also accused GMB of taking long to pay for grain delivered to its depots.