|GMB warned against abusing farmers|
|Friday, 17 June 2011 01:00|
Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made yesterday said that it was disturbing that farmers were suffering at the hands of GMB officials.
The minister urged GMB to stick to its core business of ensuring the strategic grain reserve than punishing and humiliating farmers who were already suffering from the effects of sanctions.
"If they have to charge a fee then it should be known and has to be reasonable. GMB should continue offering moisture content for farmers whether there is electricity at the depots or not," he said.
The minister said it was well known that the country was experiencing electricity shortages and farmers should not suffer for that.
The minister said this was a very serious allegation and GMB should take the packaging materials to farmers rather than refusing to take any other bags when there was a massive shortage of the commodity at GMB depots countrywide.
"There is no instruction from Government through the ministry for farmers to deliver grain only in GMB bags. I want to make it a point that farmers are free to deliver grain in bulk to GMB and small amounts should be in grain bags.
"Some farmers are even washing empty fertiliser bags due to the shortages. Why can't GMB take its bags to the farmers," complained the minister.
The farmers are required to bring offer letters and recommendations from Agritex before accessing the commodity.
As at May 26, 2011, 98 percent of wheat seed had been received of which 19 percent had been dispersed to farmers, 93 percent of compound D had been received and 27 percent distributed to farmers and 45 percent of Ammonium Nitrate had been received at the GMB depots and 22 percent was taken up by farmers,"
Minister Made said the wheat window period had passed while some farmers were still in the process of acquiring the inputs.
Minister Made said it was important that GMB realised that the inputs were not for free and farmers had the right to buy.
There are instances where the subsidised inputs are found at the parallel market instead of being used for the sole business of wheat production. Minister Made said it was the responsibility of GMB to investigate and bring to book all the perpetrators.
"The GMB board should closely look into this matter and correct the situation with speed. Government can not allow such things to continue," he said.
"Work has already started and we have already informed our depots not to turn away farmers for not bringing offer letters when buying wheat inputs," he said.
"If a farmer is delivering grain to GMB, the moisture content test is free," he said.
In this case the parastatal is said to be charging for the service. GMB was established to ensure a strategic grain reserve and ensure food security in Zimbabwe with particular reference to staple food products, such as maize and wheat.
GMB is an institution whose main function, within its main purpose of ensuring the country's food security, is the orderly marketing of agricultural products, mainly grains, oilseeds, edible beans and coffee, within Zimbabwe.
The parastatal buys various crops from farmers and sells them into the domestic agro-processing industry in addition to exporting these products to regional and international markets. When in short supply the GMB imports these products from both regional and international markets.