via Skint GMB forces farmers to quit maize 25/11/2013 by NewZiana
THE Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has encouraged farmers to grow food crops to mitigate shortages in the country amid reports that more than two million people are in need of food aid this year.
A large majority of farmers abandoned growing maize and other grains, turning instead to tobacco because of attractive pricing and orderly marketing of the leaf.
This is because the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has over the years struggled to pay farmers on time for grain deliveries and has become one of ten parastatals which the government has earmarked for commercialization to restore their viability.
According to a recently published Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee rural livelihoods report, more than half of the Zimbabwean population requires food support.
ZCFU President Wonder Chabikwa said over the weekend that although farming is a business, farmers should not abandon food crops.
“I know farmers are not happy with the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for its failure to pay for their grain deliveries in a timely manner and also paying lower prices than those being offered by private buyers,” he noted.
“This coming marketing season is going to see a change, as the government is going to empower the GMB to pay farmers on time so let us grow maize to avoid importing food.”
Chabikwa, however, said farmers in agro-ecological regions 4 and 5 should grow small grains as the market for such crops would be available.
Meanwhile, Chabikwa said planting was in progress throughout the whole country.
“Planting is in full swing and some small holder farmers in light soils who managed to respond to the few rains in the past weeks, their crops are now up already,” he added.
“Inputs distribution for small holders is also going on very well with the bulk of the farmers having received their inputs.”
Adverse weather conditions experienced across the country during past years, along with the unavailability and high costs of agricultural inputs, have contributed to the high levels of food insecurity in Zimbabwe due to the poor maize harvests.