Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Farmers have implored the Government to intervene as the Grain Marketing Board’s late payment for grain delivered to its depots is negatively impacting on preparations for the 2014/15 cropping season.
Farmers who delivered grain to the GMB said they did so on the back of Government assurances that they would be paid promptly.
Police are also arresting all private buyers, encouraging farmers to deliver their crop to the GMB.
The GMB is offering $390 per tonne against private buyers who pay $200 for a tonne.
Farmers opt for the private buyers who offer instant cash despite the low price.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said farmers were failing to purchase inputs because they did not have money.
“There is no funding for farmers, and banks are not willing to offer loans,” he said.
“Most farmers delivered the grain to GMB and expected to get their payments early to start land preparations.
“Some farmers use proceeds from their grain to hire tractors for tillage, repair broken down equipment and procure seed, fertilisers and chemicals. There has been an outcry from farmers and we urge Government to intervene and save the situation.”
Mr Chabikwa said GMB statements showed that the company last paid farmers on August 3.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president, Mrs Depinah Nkomo, said farmers were lagging behind in terms of preparations as they were waiting for their money from the GMB.
“The late payment is affecting farmers, especially women who do not have alternative sources of money. We rely on these payments to buy inputs. At the moment we should have been busy with land preparations,” she said.
“The GMB should be capacitated so that it can pay farmers cash on delivery.”
The GMB used to be the sole buyer of maize, but now competes with private players for grain after the market was liberalised in 2009. But the private buyers don’t offer funding to farmers for the purchase of inputs.
Government had to intervene to make it mandatory for every buyer to procure grain at $390.