Midlands Bureau Chief
MORE than 600 000 tonnes of maize valued at about $3 billion have been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) while cotton worth $4 billion has been delivered to Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) so far with more deliveries expected.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, revealed this during a recent tour of cotton ginneries at Nembudziya growth point in Gokwe North.
Since the start of the marketing season on April 1, nearly 1 400 buying points have been set up countrywide while an additional 400 are being established as the season progresses.
All the 84 GMB depots have begun operating daily, including on weekends, to facilitate uninterrupted grain deliveries, with supplies expected to start picking up next month.
The grain utility is paying $32 000 for a tonne of maize, $48 000 for a tonne of soya bean and $38 000 for traditional grains, according to a new producer price schedule published recently.
The Government has set aside $60 billion to ensure timely payment of farmers, with the GMB undertaking to effect payments to farmers within 72 hours of delivery. Farmers who deliver their grain to mobile collection points will be paid within five days.
“As we’ve been travelling across the country, we have observed that a lot of farmers are still to deliver maize to GMB and cotton to GMB. As of today (Saturday), over 600 000 tonnes of maize have been delivered to GMB depots across the country and they are worth $3 billon. As of cotton, deliveries to date are worth $4 billion and we have already paid over $1 billion to the farmers. Your Government is right on point and payments are coming right on time.”
Dr Masuka said of the $1,5 billion disbursed for cotton farmers 2020 deliveries, $700 million was going towards Gokwe farmers who grow half of the country’s white gold production.
“Gokwe grows half of cotton produced in the country and of the $1,5 billion, $700 million must remain in Gokwe. Gokwe provides half of the cotton deliveries in the country,” said Dr Masuka.
“We are also here in Gokwe to ascertain whether Cottco is actually paying farmers $34 per kg as the farmer delivers followed by $22 per kg for grade C and D making it $56. When the cotton is further graded and if it is grade A or B it goes to $85 and there is also a US$10 per bale incentive, and that is what has been said by President Mnangagwa and you must make sure that it is what you get from Cottco.”
The increase in hectarage, riding on the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS), is expected to see maize production under the scheme surpassing the one million tonnes mark from last season’s harvest of around 900 000 tonnes.
On the other hand, the cotton marketing season started on May 19 amid high expectations from farmers of early payments for the crop upon delivery at the 772 buying points countrywide. Of these, 359 are permanent cotton buying points while 413 are mobile buying points.
The minister said President Mnangagwa has stressed that farmers should be well incentivised to play their role towards achievement of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
“We are also interacting with cotton farmers as we sensitize them on the success we have had with Pfumvudza/ Intwasa, which we want to take to cotton farming by introducing to them Pfumvudza/ Intwasa cotton programme,” said Dr Masuka.
Under the Presidential cotton programme, Cabinet approved cotton Pfumvudza/ Intwasa pack comprising 6kg seed, 80kg basal fertiliser, 40kg top dressing and the prerequisite herbicides and chemicals reducing the seed allocation from 20kg seed to match fertilisers provided.