Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe will not import maize as it has become food secure, with farmers having so far delivered 1,1 million tonnes to the Grain Marketing Board for the 2018 marketing season, thanks to the successful Command Agriculture programme.
GMB officials said they expected the delivered maize to reach 1,2 million tonnes as farmers continue to bring the grain to the depots.
GMB general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha said that they were paying farmers for grain delivered within a week. “We have received 1 111 809 tonnes of maize from farmers since the beginning of the marketing season on April 1 and are expecting to reach to 1 180 000 tonnes,” he said.
“During the same period last year, GMB had received 1 091 349 tonnes of maize. Our maize stock were 1 314 383 tonnes of maize including the Strategic Grain Reserve.”
This means that the country is now food self-sufficient and will not import grain. During the past years, farmers preferred selling to intermediaries who offered cash on the spot, as GMB took long to pay.
This time around, GMB has been paying farmers early, a move that encouraged more to deliver the grain directly to its depots.
“GMB is buying maize, red sorghum, white sorghum, rapoko and millet at $390 per tonne. The parastatal is also buying soyabeans at $780 per tonne,” said Mr Mutenha.
The GMB boss said there was no need for farmers to sell their maize to unscrupulous business people who offered low prices, as GMB was paying timeously. He said the producer price of $390 per tonne was only meant to benefit genuine farmers.
At the beginning of the grain marketing season, the Agricultural Marketing Authority indicated that no one else was allowed to buy maize except those who contracted farmers. Maize production in Zimbabwe has been on the increase since the advent of Command Agriculture.
The brainchild of President Mnangagwa, Command Agriculture has also rescued thousands of farmers who would have failed to productively use their land owing to funding challenges. Banks were hesitant to extend loans to the farmers.
Those offering loans demanded collateral security in the form of immovable properties, which most farmers do not have.
This has made borrowing by farmers expensive. Through Command Agriculture, Government avails farmers with all the necessary inputs.
The programme has seen the country harvesting enough maize for consumption and there is potential to export the surplus.
Prior to the introduction of Command Agriculture, Zimbabwe failed to produce enough grain for consumption, forcing it to import from neighbouring countries and beyond.
President Mnangagwa is on record as stating that through Command Agriculture, Zimbabwe will never import maize.