Farmers welcome incentive prices, recommend timely payments Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka recently apologised for the delays in farmer payments, saying this had been occasioned by the delay in the release of funds by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, who are the buyers of the Strategic Grain Reserve.

Edgar Vhera-Agriculture Specialist Writer

FARMERS have welcomed the recently announced wheat and maize incentive prices and called for the timely disbursement of payments so that they effectively implement crop rotation schedules for increased production.

Maize-wheat-maize and soya bean-wheat-soya bean are the most common rotations practiced by farmers where income from one enterprise purchases inputs for the other. 

Government recently announced an incentive planning price of US$440 per tonne for wheat and US$360 for maize and sorghum and assured farmers of timeous payments for their deliveries, as the Second Republic steps up efforts to bridge the El Nino-induced food deficits.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) secretary general, Mr Paul Zakariya yesterday said the incentive producer prices were within reasonable range to ensure grower viability. 

“What remains the major concern for wheat and maize growers is the issue of delayed payments. To imagine that some farmers who delivered their wheat last year in November have, up till now, not been paid, can be very discouraging,” he said. 

Mr Zakariya said farmers had financial obligations throughout the year and delayed payments resulted in them failing to service loans, maintain equipment, pay workers and purchase materials required to keep the farms running efficiently. 

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is encouraged to be adequately prepared for all marketing seasons and ensure that farmers are paid upon delivery of produce, he added.

Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA) chairman Mr Graeme Murdoch said though he had not seen the full press release and was yet to meet the Minister, the reality was that the announced prices were in line with import parity although growers’ major concern remained on the high cost of production.

“The incentive prices are good compared to the import parity value and this motivates farmers. The only problem is the issue of delayed payments. There are many farmers right now with maize but they are not keen to deliver to GMB because of non-payment,” Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe said. 

Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Mrs Monica Chinamasa said: “I think the incentive price for wheat should be US$450 and that of maize US$390 due to increased cost of production, especially from water and electricity charges. The Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange (ZMX) is already buying and selling maize at above US$390.”  

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka recently apologised for the delays in farmer payments, saying this had been occasioned by the delay in the release of funds by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, who are the buyers of the Strategic Grain Reserve.

“As of Tuesday, all the maize and traditional grain delivered to GMB had been fully paid for by the Government for both the United States and Zimbabwe dollar components. All the local currency payment for wheat has been fully met while some component of the foreign currency has been paid. 

“What has been outstanding as of Tuesday is US$$34, 9 million and Government is committed to pay this remaining amount before end of April 2024,” said Dr Masuka.

On loss of value due to exchange rate volatility, Dr Masuka said Government had adopted a deliberate strategy to pay timeously for the local currency component whose amount would be indexed to the prevailing exchange rate of the day and not on the day the crop was delivered.

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