Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
FARMERS have delivered 16 000 tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board as Government makes frantic efforts to pay on delivery.
Government has so far released $4,5 million for the payment of farmers who delivered their grain to GMB depots.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on agriculture yesterday, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday said treasury released $1 million last week and $3,5 million this week.
“We have allowed farmers to deliver grain of between 12,5 and 13,5 percent moisture content and GMB will take care of the issue. Farmers have been affected by drought. There are fears of fires, and thefts so we have granted that GMB must take maize with a moisture content of up to 13,5 percent.
“We are paying maize farmers within a short time so they can use their money for winter cropping. We have instructed GMB that no money should go into the board’s account, but should be go straight to farmers,” he said.
Dr Made said the tobacco industry had an organised marketing system where farmers get their money soon after selling and said Government was working on ensuring the same process is applied to maize.
He bemoaned the challenge of liquidity in the agriculture sector which he said was affecting production as some farmers were not capable of funding themselves.
He said farmers were failing to access funding as financial institutions required collateral.
“Government, with assistance from banks, is working on a document to make the 99-year lease to be used as collateral.
“The document is close to being finalised,” he said.
On cotton, Dr made said the crop was also important in terms of food security and Government could not allow the industry to collapse.
“Government will be supporting cotton for the next three seasons and we are already preparing for inputs related to the next seasons,” he said.