Livingstone Marufu Business Reporter
Farmers have delivered over 1, 4 million tonnes of cereals to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) with the majority of them having received their payments. This is more than triple what was delivered to the marketing board last year. It is believed that Treasury has so far paid close to $520 million to farmers within a week of delivery to cater for the just starting summer cropping season.
Monetary authorities have upped weekly disbursements to GMB to about $40 million to farmers every week to boost 2017 /2018 agricultural season. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Crop production) Deputy Minister Davis Marapira, remained optimistic that the 1,8 million tonnes is still within reach.
“Farmers have so far delivered over 1,4 million tonnes of maize to GMB with most of them having received their money through their bank accounts and some through mobile payment platforms. We have managed to pay farmers over $520 million out of $546 million for all the grain deliveries so far. There has been an improvement from last year to this year in terms of payments and deliveries. Most of the farmers are getting their money within five days of delivering, which is healthy for the new agriculture season,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
The deliveries have tripled to over 1,4 million tonnes so far from around 500 000 tonnes the same period last year. This is a notable progression from previous years when payment would take months.
As a result of the effective payment system, many farmers have already started preparing for the forthcoming season. Buoyed by the success of the 2016-17 season, $487 million was set aside for the 2017-2018 Command Agriculture Scheme. GMB has extended its payment to soya beans and other small grain crops like sorghum, rapoko, cowpeas, sunflower and groundnuts. Small grain farmers and soyabean farmers have been paid around $15 million and $20 million.
Deputy Minister Marapira is lobbying for more farmers and concerns to help in localised production to save the much needed foreign currency and increase productivity. Government has refuted claims by some quarters of the media that despite the claimed bumper harvest Government is still importing a great deal of maize from other countries. Instead the state said the grain procured in February and March is still making its way into the country and these are not new imports as the country has abundant maize stocks. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Wonder Chabikwa, said the majority of farmers delivering their crop were being paid within the stipulated time.
“This year we would like to commend the GMB for the job well done and most farmers are generally happy with the payments. If there are some inconsistencies where some farmers don’t receive their payments in time due to wrongly filled information and some small mistakes, it will be rectified within hours,” said Mr Chabikwa. GMB was engaged to attend to all the queries and promised to solve them. The country needs about 1, 8 million tonnes of maize for both human and livestock consumption this year. Farmers have started receiving Command Agriculture Schemes and Presidential Input Scheme inputs across the country.